The 2023 season is critical for the Chicago Bears in general. But it’s also critical for several players individually, perhaps none more than safety Eddie Jackson, 29, who is heading into his seventh NFL season coming off an injury-shortened 2022 campaign that was cut short by a Lisfranc injury after 12 games.
Bears Star Vows to Have ‘Best Season’ Ever at His Position
Jackson is a two-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro selection. But has not been named to either since 2019 and injuries have kept him out of eight games over the last two seasons. He was, however, in the midst of a resurgent campaign before getting injured this past season.
After two years without even one interception, the former No. 112 overall pick recorded four.
That is his most since the 2018 season when he earned All-Pro honors. He also defended six passes and forced a pair of fumbles. Jackson received the highest grade of any Bears defender to see action in more than one game last season, per Pro Foot Ball Focus. That was good for just 21st among all safeties, though.
Big Play @BoJack4 ‼️
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 30, 2022
Still, his ability to get right back into the form he was in when he last took the field is critical. This is a Bears’ defense looking to take a big step forward.
They ranked 17th in passing yards allowed and 10th in scoring. But that was elevated by an even worse run defense that ranked 31st in yards allowed and 32nd in scoring. The unit also ranked 32nd in net yards per pass attempt.
Jackson is heading into the third year of a four-year, $58.4 million contract extension.
Clock Ticking on Eddie Jackson
He received that extension under former Bears general manager Ryan Pace. Current general manager Ryan Poles has proved willing to part with previously proven performers. He traded Robert Quinn – the Bears’ single-season sack leader – to the Philadelphia Eagles and Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens last season.
Both Smith and Quinn were in the final year of their contracts. The former also orchestrated a holdout during training camp ahead of last season.
But Poles has been a noted fan of Jackson’s approach under the new regime.
#Bears GM Ryan Poles says that Eddie Jackson is doing "good" and expects him to be a Bear this year. Jackson suffered a foot injury in week 12 and did not play there forth. Poles says he's going to keep quiet about any potential deal with David Montgomery.
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) February 28, 2023
Jackson and cornerback Jalen Johnson are key pieces from a previously moribund defense that missed the end of a disappointing season. But that defense has some new teeth, particularly in the middle of the field with the addition of Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards at linebacker.
Training Camp Could Bring More Roster Changes
The Bears added offensive linemen Riley Rieff and Michael Schofield ahead of training camp last season; something to keep in mind with this year’s camp bearing down and the team still needing to address its pass rush. Their best pass rusher may be tweener DeMarcus Walker who recorded 7.0 sacks for the Tennessee Titans last season.
But head coach Matt Eberflus has said the team is interested in some of the free agents.
Veterans will report to Halas Hall for the official start of training camp on July 25. The first practice is set for the following day.