Ex-Bears Starting LB Reunites With Familiar Face in NFC: Report

Nick Kwiatkoski

Getty Former Bears LB Nick Kwiatkoski is signing with the Atlanta Falcons.

Nick Kwiatkoski is reuniting with Ryan Pace.

The former Chicago Bears linebacker is signing a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons according to NFL network insider Tom Pelissero. Pace, who was fired as Bears general manager in January, was hired as Atlanta’s senior personnel executive in February.

Since arriving in Atlanta, Pace has worked alongside Ruston Webster and another former Bears GM, Phil Emery, in the team’s personnel department. After spending his last two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders, Kwiatkoski now reunites with the former GM who chose him in the fourth round (113th overall) out of West Virginia in the 2016 NFL draft.

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Kwiatkoski Is the Latest Former Bear to Land in Atlanta

Kwiatkoski is the latest in a growing number of former Bears to join the Falcons since Pace came aboard. In addition to Kwiatkoski, multiple former Bears, including wide receiver Damiere Byrd, offensive linemen Germain Ifedi, Elijah Wilkinson and Rashaad Coward, running back Damien Williams and safety Teez Tabor have all signed with Atlanta this offseason.

Several former Bears coaches have also joined Atlanta’s ranks, including Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, quarterbacks coach Charles London, running backs coach Michael Pitre and outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino.

So many former ex-players and coaches have landed in Atlanta that it has become a bit of a running joke on Twitter:

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Kwiatkoski Had Down Year in 2021

Kwiatkoski, who turns 29 on May 26, played his way into a decent contract after a standout season with the Bears in 2019. He filled in for an injured Danny Trevathan that year, playing in all 16 games and starting eight. He finished with 76 total tackles (56 solo, eight for loss), an interception, three QB hits, a forced fumble, four passes defensed, 3.0 sacks, and a safety in 2019.

The Bears had a choice, and they chose to re-sign Trevathan the following year instead of Kwiatkoski, who inked a three-year, $21 million contract with Las Vegas instead. He was released by the Raiders in March 2022 after a disappointing 2021 campaign that ended with a stint on injured reserve. The veteran linebacker played in just eight games last season, finishing with 21 tackles (one for loss) and a forced fumble, but an ankle injury limited him enough for the Raiders to let him go before he fulfilled the third and final year of his contract.

Kwiatkoski wound up playing in just 20 games and starting 12 for Las Vegas, so he’ll be on a prove-it deal with the Falcons this coming season. If he can stay healthy, he’s got a shot at another longer deal, but he’s not getting any younger, so 2022 will be a huge year for the veteran linebacker.

Over his six seasons in the NFL, Kwiatkoski has played in 77 games and started 34, amassing 286 total tackles (17 for loss), two interceptions, a safety, six forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed, 7.0 sacks and 10 QB hits.

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