Bears Land Another Former Colts Defender for 2022: Report

Bears Sign MAdams

Getty Matthew Adams #49 of the Indianapolis Colts watches the action during the fourth quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 27, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. The Colts defeated the Lions 27-17.

The Chicago Bears are reuniting another former Indianapolis Colts defender with new head coach Matt Eberflus next season.

Matthew Adams, a fifth-year linebacker who spent all four of his first NFL seasons in Indianapolis with Eberflus as his defensive coordinator, announced on his Instagram that he had signed a free-agent contract with the Bears for the 2022 season. The 26-year-old was a 2018 seventh-round pick for the Colts and primarily served as a core contributor on special teams.

Adams becomes the second former Colts defender to sign with Chicago this offseason, following in the footsteps of defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad. The Bears signed the latter to a two-year, $8 million contract, but it is more likely that Adams was signed to a one-year, veteran-minimum deal worth $990,000 given his level of experience.

The Bears have not yet officially announced the signing of Adams, but the move is expected to be on the NFL’s transaction wire on Saturday, April 9.

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Will Adams Crack Chicago’s LB Rotation?

The Bears have already made a series of changes to their linebacker corps for next season. They released longtime veteran Danny Trevathan and declined to re-sign starter Alec Ogletree. They also signed Nicholas Morrow, Joe Thomas and Noah Dawkins for depth behind defensive centerpiece Roquan Smith.

Right now, Smith and Morrow are the two linebackers at the top of the depth chart for the middle of Eberflus’ defense, but Adams has the advantage of being familiar with Eberflus’ scheme and could push the other depth pieces for playing time in 2022. He hasn’t chipped in much as a defender in recent years, but he showed potential in 2018 — his only year getting significant defensive snaps — with 33 tackles and five for a loss.

At the very least, Adams could be a valuable piece for the Bears’ special teams after a standout season in the third phase. According to Pro Football Focus, he played the 17th-most special teams snaps in the league last year and finished as the fourth-highest-graded player on special teams in 2021, contributing on coverage and blocking units alike. He also tallied nine special teams tackles and blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown in Week 15’s win over New England.

Bears Could Still Take LB Early in 2022 Draft

New Bears general manager Ryan Poles has taken a few light swings at the linebacker position in his first few months on the job and (hopefully) understands the priority should be extending Smith for the long-term future, but none of that should stop him from looking at middle linebackers early in the 2022 NFL draft later this month.

The Bears only have six picks in the upcoming draft and desperately need to add more talented receivers, cornerbacks and offensive linemen to their ranks, but the right linebacker could be a wise investment. The strategy would essentially be to find a good talent now, start developing him throughout 2022 in the rotation and then have a safeguard in place in case things fall through with Smith’s negotiations. Even if Smith stays as the majority of fans hope, having two good middle ‘backers isn’t a bag thing.

Given Eberflus’ arrival means the Bears will be shifting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, though, Poles might make it a lower priority than realized. Morrow saw a significant amount of starting reps for Las Vegas in 2021 and could easily fulfill the No. 2 role in his system if it follows the pattern of last year’s Colts defense, which had starter Bobby Okereke on the field for more than 98% of defensive snaps in 2021.

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