Well, no one can say Ryan Pace has no idea what he’s doing. He locked in All-Pro Safety Eddie Jackson on a Four year, $58M contract extension on Friday afternoon and managed to deflect at least a little bit of the unsilent majority that’s been killing him for his NYE press conference the last few days.
Jackson takes home $22M in guarantees at signing and $33M overall, so you can assume he’s been given a healthy bonus, small cap number in 2021 (unless this tears up his 2020 $735K of his final rookie year, either way the team will really need it) and the first two years at least fully guaranteed. Jackson, deservedly so, becomes the highest paid Safety in football at just under $15M/season.
Jackson earned that top-salary-in-the-league title with his play, starting way back in 2017 when he picked off Cam Newton and scooped up a fumble, taking both to the house with each TD return going over 75 yards. That’s a single game NFL record and Jackson did nothing but build his resume as a playmaker and takeaway specialist from there. He had monster pick-six returns in huge moments to seal wins down the stretch for the 2018 Division Champion team, though he didn’t record a TD in 2019 as opposing teams avoided throwing his way almost exclusively. Not matter, Jackson just set a career high with five tackles for loss as Chuck Pagano used him more in the box and mixed him in with blitz coverages closer to the line. And the whole “don’t throw at Eddie” game plan helped the Bears hold opponents to a top three finish in plays of 20+ yards at 40 total.
Eddie Jackson is the real fucking deal and he earned this contract. The team is better with him in it, period.
So what does this mean for the rest of the offseason? Well, it’s definitely good that Pace got this order of business out of the way early in the offseason and didn’t let anything linger into OTAs or training camp and the specter of a hold out. Jackson would have gotten all this and possibly more if he’d hit UFA status, so the deal is timely and warranted. This could, however, impact what they do at the opposite Safety position. Jackson is now the lone (true)Safety on the books for 2020 and beyond, with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson all UFAs come March.
Bush and Houston-Carson should be cheap enough to bring back, assuming they’d both like to be here. Dix is the more curious case, as he didn’t exactly shine in his new home. He was very steady, though, and didn’t really show the issues of poor tackling that have plagued him in the past. Pace would do well to lock him and one of the lesser depth Safeties up next to save himself from scrambling later this offseason, though he doesn’t have a ton of cap room to work with. If Dix wants a big, 3+ year deal he’s likely going to have to find it elsewhere, so it might come down to how much he wants to continue with his Alabama alum partner and the rest of this defensive core.
You can probably bet that this move will seal Danny Trevathan‘s fate unless he takes a huge pay cut, but Nick Kwiatkowski is also due new money and he showed he’s ready to step into that role after Trevathan and Smith’s injuries this season. The offense is noticeably absent from the any discussion of core players locked up. Pace would be wise to prioritize a new deal for WR Allen Robinson, who was arguably the only good thing the Bears can point to from 2019 on his side of the ball.That, though, can be left for later as everyone celebrates Steady Eddie and his new paper. This gives the Bears a very sound, solid defensive core locked in through at least 2022 including Jackson, Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, Roquan Smith, Eddie Goldman and to a lesser extent Buster Skrine and Bilal Nichols.
Enough of the future what-ifs, enjoy some of Eddie’s best work. Congrats to #39. Roll Damn Tide.