Bears Pushed to Trade Away $72 Million Starter: ‘He Was Badly Outplayed’

Ryan Poles

Getty General manager Ryan Poles of the Chicago Bears.

Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was the biggest signing for the Chicago Bears last offseason, inking a four-year, $72 million contract with the team.

Now, a little over a year later, one analyst believes the Bears should send him packing via trade.

Gary Davenport of Bleacher Report listed one player each team “should consider trading” before the 2024 season begins. For the Bears, he chose Edmunds. “There is at least one player the Bears could consider dealing—and it’s a trade that would be a lulu,” Davenport wrote on June 3.

“The problem is that Edmunds didn’t play like an $18 million linebacker last year—he was badly outplayed by fellow newcomer T.J. Edwards and uncharacteristically struggled badly at times in coverage.”

Would Chicago Bears Considering Trading LB Tremaine Edmunds?

The Bears shelled out major ducats to Edmunds for a reason. The veteran linebacker is currently the third-highest paid player on Chicago’s roster behind defensive end Montez Sweat and wide receiver Keenan Allen, and he’s likely not going anywhere.

Together with Edwards and third-year standout Jack Sanborn, the Bears have one of the best linebacker trios in the game — both Edwards and Edmunds were ranked in PFF’s top 11 LBs in the NFL.

The Bears are also situated nicely at the position. Edmunds plays the pivotal MIKE role at LB, while Edwards plays WILL and Sanborn fills the SAM role.

Davenport thinks Sanborn would be able to take over Edmunds’ spot in the lineup.
”Jack Sanborn doesn’t have Edmunds’ reputation or salary, but he has played well when afforded the chance in the past,” Davenport wrote. “Edwards has shown in Philly that he can be the leader the Bears hoped to be getting in Edmunds. And the team can shave a cool $20 million off the cap by trading Edmunds.”

Edmunds had Slow Start to 2023 Season, Should Have Better Year in 2024

After spending five years with the Buffalo Bills, Edmunds signed a new deal with Chicago last offseason. It was his first year playing in the defensive scheme of head coach Matt Eberflus, and his 2023 stat line dipped as a result.

He finished with 102 tackles (six for loss), 1.0 sacks, three quarterback hits, seven passes defensed and an interception in 13 games for Buffalo in 2022. In 15 starts for Chicago last year, Edmunds finished with 113 tackles (five for loss), seven passes defensed and a forced fumble. He also amassed a career-high four interceptions last season, returning one for the first defensive score of his career.

He had a slow start to his 2023 campaign after dealing with an undisclosed injury, but he and the team ramped things up during the second half of the season. Chicago ultimately tied for the league lead in interceptions last year (22), and expectations have since been raised.

“I know eyes are on us, but as an individual, as a team, I think it just comes down to the base line and taking it a day at a time and understanding that it’s a long season, a journey. You can’t get caught up in the outside noise and what’s going on that we can’t control,” Edmunds said at OTAs on May 31.

“You can only control what you can control, and that’s how you show up each and every day. How you push each other. How we hold each other to accountability and continuing to work hard. That’s the main message right now. A lot of good competition we have right now in OTAs. We’ll take that to minicamp next week and we’ll be ready to go in training camp.”

Considering Edmunds’ role as a leader in the locker room coupled with the team’s investment in him, it would be entirely surprising if the Bears decided to trade him away. Anything is possible, of course, but for a Bears team that is just starting to gel, it wouldn’t be wise to start trading away key pieces.

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