Eddie Jackson is in the midst of one of his best seasons of his career.
The Chicago Bears safety is currently second in the NFL in interceptions (4), and he also has 65 total tackles (one for loss), two forced fumbles and four passes defensed in nine starts (stats via Pro Football Reference).
Jackson signed a four-year, $58 million contract extension with the team in January of 2020, and he is one of the most notable holdovers from the former regime. Chicago’s first-year general manager Ryan Poles has gotten rid of several of the team’s higher-priced contracts, particularly on defense. Since Poles’ arrival, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn have been traded away, while others, like Danny Trevathan and Eddie Goldman, were outright released.
Some thought Jackson could be traded, but he stuck around after the deadline on November 1. Considering the way Poles has purged the roster since his arrival, it’s fair to wonder whether the All-Pro safety will stick around after this season.
2023 Is Interesting Year Cap-Wise for Eddie Jackson
In his November 4 mailbag for The Athletic, Bears insider Kevin Fishbain was asked about Jackson’s future in Chicago, and he made an interesting point about the veteran safety’s contract situation after this season ends.
“The Bears will have a decision to make in the winter,” Fishbain wrote. “For the first time since Jackson signed his contract, the amount of dead cap created by cutting Jackson would be less than his cap hit, usually a tell on if a team would be comfortable cutting a player.”
The question, then, will be whether or not the Bears value the contributions Jackson is making on and off the field enough to keep him around.
Jackson, who turns 29 in December, has been incredibly durable since entering the league, never missing more than two games in any of his six seasons. He has also been a strong mentor to the team’s young defensive backs, particularly rookie safety Jaquan Brisker.
“Jackson would take up a sizable portion of the team’s 2023 cap, but he’s been the Bears’ best defensive player this season,” Fishbain pointed out. “He’s a leader. If they believe he can continue playing at a high level, he’s worth keeping around, especially considering the cap space the Bears will have. It should be good for Jaquan Brisker’s development and gives the team one less need.”
Will Bears Cut Eddie Jackson in 2023?
Fishbain thinks the arrow is pointing up for Jackson when it comes to staying in the Windy City. Chicago is set to have the most salary cap space in the NFL by far next year with $124 million, per Over the Cap, so money shouldn’t be as much of a factor.
“If they are at all afraid of Jackson’s production dropping back down, they’d probably move on,” Fishbain noted, adding: “Even if they can afford it, they have to be comfortable with the seventh-largest cap hit for a safety in the league. At this point, signs point to him sticking around.”
If kept, he’d have a cap hit of $17 million. The Bears would eat nearly $4 million in dead cap money if they cut Jackson after June 1 of next year, which isn’t crippling by any means. Still, if Jackson can continue his ball-hawking ways this season, it would be a surprise if the Bears let him go next year.