The first Philadelphia Eagles free agent domino to fall is T.J. Edwards leaving to join the Chicago Bears on a three-year contract. This much according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport.
The deal is reportedly worth $19.5 million with $12 million guaranteed. That is top 17 linebacker money on an annual basis.
Edwards is reunited with former Eagles executive Ian Cunningham in the Windy City. The fact that he is a Lake Villa, Illinois native (one hour outside of Chicago) also likely factored in to his signing decision.
Unlike some other players, Edwards was not considered a lock to leave Philly. But recent rumors indicated that his price tag could be higher than many expected.
Edwards originally signed with the Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Wisconsin in 2019. He got better every year and eventually worked his way up to becoming a full-time starter as the team’s middle linebacker. He was also the green dot wearer, meaning he was the sole member on defense in direct contact with Philly’s coaching staff between plays.
Edwards leaving means the Eagles will need at least one new starting linebacker in 2023. It’s possible they’ll need two since Kyzir White is also a free agent. Perhaps Edwards’ exit means White’s return is more likely? Or maybe they’re both gone?
The Eagles do have one starter waiting in the wings after selecting Nakobe Dean with a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Dean was not trusted to play much as a rookie; Edwards and White were the primary off-ball linebackers. Now the team is counting on him to step up in Year 2.
Edwards is just one of many Eagles free agents — especially on the defensive side of the ball — who will likely be leaving Philadelphia in the coming days. While these departures leave the team worse off in the short-term, the bright side is that they work towards the Eagles receiving compensatory picks in the 2024 NFL Draft.