Linebacker T.J. Edwards is getting his big payday after entering the league an undrafted free agent.
The Chicago Bears have agreed to sign the former Philadelphia Eagle to a three-year deal worth $19.5 million, $12 million of which is fully guaranteed, per ESPN.
The 26-year-old went undrafted and the Eagles scooped him up in 2019, where he played all 16 games, starting in four. But these past two seasons with Philly have seen Edwards take a leap in production.
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In 2021, Edwards totaled 130 combined tackles (five for loss) with one interception, one fumble recovery and five passes defended in 16 games.
He followed that up last season with 159 tackles to lead the Eagles in that category. It was also the third-most in franchise history.
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He also had two sacks, 10 tackles for loss, seven passes defended and one fumble recovery in all 17 regular-season games for Philadelphia.
The Wisconsin product fills a need for Chicago since the trade of Roquan Smith before the NFL deadline last season to the Baltimore Ravens. Smith was third in the league in total tackles, but Edwards came in seventh. The Bears will hope that production remains the same.
Edwards will likely pair up with Jack Sanborn, a fellow Badger, at middle linebacker, and Nicholas Morrow on the strong side.
With Edwards gone, Nakobe Dean, the heralded Georgia Bulldogs product that fell in the 2022 NFL Draft to the Eagles in the third round, will have his opportunity to cement himself as the team’s middle linebacker. Dean played in all 17 games, but was on the field for just 3% of the team’s defensive snaps. He was mostly a special teamer.
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Kyzir White and postseason star Haason Reddick return for the Eagles as well.
The Eagles are losing another defensive contributor from last season, as defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has agreed to a four-year, $84 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers.
Edwards has 389 tackles, five sacks, 20 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles in 61 NFL games throughout his early career.
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All new free-agent deals can be processed on March 15, which is the start of the new league year.