Two familiar faces will be returning for the Chicago Bears. After inking long snapper Patrick Scales to a one-year deal late Thursday, the Bears re-signed outside linebacker Isaiah Irving Friday evening, per The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain.
The Bears have lost a few key defensive role players to free agency already (defensive lineman Nick Williams and Kevin Pierre-Louis both signed with other teams, as did linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski) so stocking the team with as much talent as possible to fill those holes is paramount. Re-signing Irving adds depth and keeps a familiar face around.
Patrick Scales Remains Long Snapper on 1-Year Deal
Scales, who just turned 32 in February, has been the team’s long snapper since 2015. He entered the league in 2014 and spent a year with the Baltimore Ravens before coming to Chicago. Scales has played 53 or his 55 career games with Chicago, whose fans understand the importance of continuity at the long snapper position. He has missed the 2017 season due to a torn ACL.
Prior to Scales’ arrival, Patrick Mannelly, now a Chicago sports analyst, served as the team’s long snapper for 16 seasons. Mannelly retired in 2014, and the Bears have managed to establish a solid presence at the position with Scales in recent years. Long snapper is an underrated and important role, and Scales has filled it more than capably.
Isaiah Irving Signs 1-Year Contract, Remains With Team
Irving has been a key special teams contributor for the Bears since he signed with the team as an undrafted free agent out of San Jose State. He will also provide added depth at edge rusher behind All-Pro Khalil Mack and the newly acquired former Cowboy Robert Quinn.
Irving has played in 33 games for the Bears in his three years with the team, including 13 games each of the past two seasons. He had a career-high 14 tackles in 2019, and he has been a durable presence since his arrival in 2017. Fishbain noted that Irving had gotten some interest from other teams, but it wasn’t enough to lure him away from Chicago.
It remains unknown whether Irving could slide into the role outside linebacker Aaron Lynch has played with the Bears over the last two seasons, but it’s unlikely that Lynch, who is also a free agent, will return in 2020. Thus, Irving could be seeing his snap count grow in 2020. In limited action with the Bears in three seasons, Irving has a sack, a fumble recovery, four quarterback hits and a tackle for loss.
Securing Irving’s services for another season is a good depth-adding move for the Bears, particularly if they’re planning on moving on from Lynch.