When asked the question of what the focus will be for the Chicago Bears this offseason, most of the discussions will center on the offense. That is neither surprising nor unfair. The offense ranked 27th in the NFL last season. It has to get better if this team wants to go after a Super Bowl. However, the defense has its own set of issues. A big one that not enough people are talking about is safety.
Now GM Ryan Pace did clear the most important hurdle. Eddie Jackson is locked up for the long-term after his recent extension. The problem lay with who fills that other spot in the starting lineup. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix? Deon Bush? DeAndre Houston-Carson? All three players are free agents this March. Clinton-Dix will likely be too expensive to bring back. Bush and Houston-Carson have no starting experience.
So what can they do?
Odds are Pace will try to replicate what he accomplished with Clinton-Dix. Finding a solid veteran in free agency who might come in at a favorable price. One name that could end up fitting that profile perfectly is Tony Jefferson whom Jamison Hensley of ESPN believes is on his way out of Baltimore.
“He was Baltimore’s prized free-agent acquisition in 2017, when the Ravens gave him $19 million guaranteed on a four-year deal. Jefferson never lived up to expectations, totaling two interceptions, two forced fumbles and eight passes defensed in 35 games. Jefferson just didn’t feel like the right fit, whether he was playing alongside fellow safeties Eric Weddle or Earl Thomas. The Ravens can save $7 million in cap space by cutting Jefferson and going with Chuck Clark, who took over and excelled when Jefferson was injured.”
Jefferson would give Chicago Bears a new Adrian Amos
People in Baltimore were disappointed with how things went for Jefferson. Not a surprise given his contract. However, to say he was completely useless is just wrong. In his first two seasons there, he played solid football with 109 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. His skill set is that of a classic strong safety. Someone who loves to drop down into the box and make noise around the line of scrimmage. He defends the run well and is an effective blitzer.
The best way to describe him is basically what the Bears had in Adrian Amos. Their talents and playing styles are quite similar. It’s been argued that losing Amos forced Jackson to play near the line of scrimmage a lot more often in 2019. Something that took away from his true talents as a centerfielder in deep coverage. Jefferson’s arrival would allow them to return to that style of scheme. There are some risks with his recent health issues, but at age 28 it’s worth trying given his price will be cheap.