Things are going to look a lot different for the Chicago Bears in their secondary in 2022, not only from a schematic standpoint but with their personnel too. At cornerback they are (hopefully) looking to shakeup the depth chart, and at safety it’s possible they only return one player due to free agency. I’ll touch on the corners tomorrow, but for now let’s see what the Bears have at safety.
In this 12-part series I’ll be listing the contract status of all the current Bears players on a position by position basis, while speculating on some offseason moves that could happen.
Eddie Jackson - Signed through 2024 - Jackson’s play at safety is a polarizing topic around Bears fans. He does a lot of good things in coverage, but that isn’t showing up on the stat sheet, and it’s rarely showing up on the TV broadcasts. He’s never been a very physical player, but when he was taking the ball away that didn’t seem to matter. In his first 3 seasons he had 10 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 5 touchdowns. In 2020 and 2021 he had 4 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, and 1 TD. No interceptions for two straight years is a bad look for a guy that was made the highest paid safety when he received his contract extension before the 2020 season.
Tashaun Gipson Sr. - Free agent - Gipson was adequate his two years in Chicago, but he’ll be 32-years old this summer, so I don’t see him returning.
DeAndre Houston-Carson - Free agent - DHC had a career year with 51 tackles, but his play in the third phase is why I’d like to see him return. Last year he had 3 starts in his 13 games played, but he also showed up in subpackages as a nickel and dime back. The Bears could bring him back at a reasonable price to be a back-up and core special teamer.
Deon Bush - Free agent - Bush also had a career year, and like Houston-Carson, he’ll be in the mix to return for a depth spot and to play some special teams.
Teez Tabor - Restricted free agent - He was drafted as a corner by the Lions in 2017, but morphed into a safety last year with the Bears. I don’t see him in the plans.
Michael Joseph - Signed to a Reserve/Futures contract - The Bears brought Joseph back late last season, then inked him to a reserve deal, but he’s a longshot to even make the 2022 practice squad.
2022 OUTLOOK - The Bears need a starter to play next to Jackson, and I don’t think that guy is listed above. I’d expect the Bears to bring back ether Bush or DHC to compete for a depth spot, and then sign a free agent with some starting experience.
If they want to look to Matt Eberflus’ old team, the Colts have an unrestricted free agent that could come in and help the defense in their transition. George Odum started 7 games last year, and in 2020 he was a special teams All-Pro. With so many former Colts’ defensive coaches in Chicago they’ll know if the 28-years old is ready for a bigger role.
Minnesota’s Xavier Woods was with Dallas in 2018 with Eberflus, and since he played in Rod Marinelli’s defense for a few years he’d have some familiarity with what the Bears are going to do in 2022. With the Vikes moving to a new defensive scheme he could be available.
The Bears may only have 5 draft picks, but a safety could be had at some point. USC’s Isaiah Pola-Mao (6’4”, 205 pounds) has been called a heady and instinctive player that could be a day three prospect. Cincinnati’s Bryan Cook is another day three option that brings some physicality in his 6’1”, 203 pound frame.