June 19, 2024

3 realistic options for the Chicago Bears to replace Eddie Jackson

The Chicago Bears recently made the difficult decision to cut team leader Eddie Jackson. Jackson was a captain and spent the first seven seasons of his career in Chicago. However, the Bears are getting younger and the move freed up around $12M in cap space for the team.

Eddie Jackson released: Should the Eagles reunite him with Vic Fangio? -  Bleeding Green Nation

The team not only moved on from Jackson but veteran offensive lineman Cody Whitehair as well. The Bears are now expected to have around $66M in cap space, which is the third-most in the league.

Replacing Jackson’s production won’t be easy. The defensive back is a two-time Pro Bowler and was a First-team All-Pro selection in 2018. Jackson started 12 games in 2023 and collected 37 tackles, five pass defenses, and one interception.

Today, let’s identify three realistic options to replace Jackson in 2024. We will review one option already on the roster, one upcoming free agent, and one draft prospect.


Browns Land Deshaun Watson Upgrade in Proposed Blockbuster

If the Cleveland Browns decide to look at alternate solutions at quarterback this offseason, Chicago Bears starter Justin Fields could be an option to replace Deshaun Watson.

The Bears are facing an interesting offseason decision with Fields. The team selected the former Ohio State standout with the No. 11 pick in the 2021 draft. However, Chicago holds the No. 1  overall pick, which would likely be USC star passer Caleb Williams.

A panelist of ESPN analysts and insiders were recently asked for a move they wanted to see this offseason. Seth Walder petitioned for the Browns to trade for Fields.

“This is a wild one, I know. But if I were the Browns, I would look at Deshaun Watson as mostly a sunk cost and try to upgrade at quarterback. With no first-round pick and so much money already heading Watson’s way, this would be tough to do,” Walder said. “But trading a second- or third-round pick for Fields (still on his rookie contract) is feasible, and I’d like to see Fields in Kevin Stefanski’s offense. The alternative is simply hoping that Watson improves and, if not, wasting another year of a talented roster.”

As Walder mentioned, Fields is on his rookie deal, so he wouldn’t come with a massive price tag — at this point at least. He has one more year left on that contract, which could be extended another season through his fifth-year option.

The question is if Fields will even be available. The Bears could decide to keep him and instead find a suitor for their top pick. NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported on February 10 that it would take a “historic” haul to pry the No. 1 overall selection from the Bears.

Chicago isn’t showing its cards but Bears president Kevin Warren recently gave public support for Fields.

“I’m a supporter of Justin because I got a chance to work with him when I was commissioner of the Big Ten conference,” Warren said during a WGN interview, via NBC Sports Chicago on February 14. “He is incredibly talented. He is smart. He works hard. And he wants to be a great NFL football player. And now he just needs to make sure he has the support around him.

“Justin has a rare combination of intelligence, of size, of strength and speed. You forget how big of a man he is until you’re up on him. He’s not a small man. I just think every year he’s going to continually get better.”

The Browns gave up a mighty haul to land Watson in 2022. Cleveland gave up a trio of first-round picks and immediately signed Watson to a massive $230 million fully guaranteed contract.

So far, it hasn’t paid off. Watson has appeared in just 12 games and his play in those contests has been uneven. He has passed for 2,217 yards, 14 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with the Browns. Watson is also coming off shoulder surgery for a displaced fracture in his right glenoid.

Despite his less-than-stellar play, the Browns are confident they can build a championship-caliber team around Watson.

“We feel good about Deshaun,” Browns GM Andrew Berry said, per Zac Jackson of The Athletic. “I think the biggest thing is just him staying on the field, keeping (him) on the field. Each year, we really do try and do as much self-assessment as possible on every area of the operation. So in good years and bad years, (we) will probably always tinker somewhere to some degree with what we think is best. But in terms of just Deshaun in particular, we’re excited. We just want to make sure he’s healthy.”

Watson is still rehabbing from the season-ending shoulder injury but is on track to be ready for training camp.

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