He’s All That: Is T.J. Edwards the Most Important Addition for the Chicago Bears this Offseason?

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Remember that 1999 movie with Freddie Prinze Jr. (when Freddie Prinze Jr. was still a thing), Rachel Leigh Cook (prior to being almost an exclusively direct-to-video actress), Matthew Lillard (aka Shaggy from Scooby Doo) and Paul Walker (prior to his time as the good cop turned good car thief/street racer/la familia in the Fast and the Furious series) called “She’s All That” where Freddie Prinze Jr. turns an obviously already hot Rachel Leigh Cook into the most popular girl in school by having her take off her glasses?  Yeah, I do too, and yes, the plot sucked but I still watched it.  More than once.  And for all of you who are like “I wasn’t born yet in 1999” well get some culture and watch it because I’m going to use this tortured analogy anyway.

Back in the 90’s, this is what passed as cool.

The point I’m making is that Tremaine Edmunds was clearly the Bears’ biggest linebacker free agent acquisition, signing him to a four-year, $72 million deal with $50 million in total guarantees.  So Edmunds is definitely like Jodi Lyn O’Keefe’s character in the movie, Taylor, who was the most popular girl in school.  But the Bears also made a significant addition to their defense by signing linebacker T.J. Edwards to a three-year deal worth $19.5 million with $12 million guaranteed.  The question is whether Edwards is Rachel Leigh Cook’s character, Laney, who doesn’t end up being Prom Queen, but does end up getting Freddie AND the friendship and respect of all her peers?  Trust me, in the 90’s that was a good thing.

OK, so perhaps it’s not the perfect analogy, but you get what I’m saying. The former Philadelphia Eagles player brings a wealth of experience and talent to the Bears’ linebacker corps, which could make a big difference in the team’s fortunes in the 2023 season.

Edwards played his college football at the University of Wisconsin, where he was a standout performer for the Badgers. He went undrafted in 2019 but was signed as a free agent by the Eagles. In his first season in the NFL, he played in all 16 games and made four starts, recording 30 tackles.

In 2020, Edwards played in 15 games for the Eagles and was one of their best linebackers, recording 75 tackles, two sacks, and one interception. He played well enough to earn a starting role for the team, and he became a key piece of their defense. Edwards enjoyed a fantastic 2022 campaign, piling up 159 tackles behind the Eagles’ imposing defensive line. He excelled against the pass as well, allowing just 0.6 yards per snap, tied for second-fewest among linebackers with at least 200 coverage snaps per Next Gen Stats.

TJ Edwards Defensive Stats
Game Def Def Fumb Fumb Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack
Year Tm G Int PD FF FR Sk Comb Solo Ast TFL QBHits
2019 PHI 16 0 0.0 30 15 15 0 0
2020 PHI 12 1 1 2 0 2.0 70 37 33 5 2
2021 PHI 16 1 5 0 1 1.0 130 64 66 5 2
2022 PHI 17 0 7 0 1 2.0 159 99 60 10 5
Care 61 2 13 2 2 5.0 389 215 174 20 9

The Bears were looking to add depth and talent to their linebacker corps, and Edwards was a natural fit. He brings versatility and playmaking ability to the team, and he can be used in a variety of roles. He has experience playing in both 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes, which should make him a valuable asset for the Bears.

The addition of Edwards should have a positive impact on the Bears’ defense in the 2023 season. He is a hard-hitting linebacker who is effective in run defense and can also drop back into coverage. He is a good tackler and has a knack for making big plays, which should help the Bears create turnovers.

The Bears’ defense has been a strength of the team for several years, but it has also been inconsistent at times, and most particularly last season after the trade deadline where both Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith were traded. With the addition of Edwards, the Bears’ linebacker corps should be stronger and more consistent, which should help the defense as a whole.

Edwards will likely take over the middle linebacker position for the Bears this year. That’s where Nick Morrow started the season (and who has now left to sign with the Eagles), and where Jack Sanborn took over when Morrow moved to weakside linebacker after the Roquan Smith trade.

Edwards’ combination of run-stuffing ability and coverage quality makes him a great acquisition for Matt Eberflus’ defense, for what I think is a steal of a price, which might have been impacted by a relatively deep free agent class. The primary question with Edwards joining Chicago is whether he’ll produce at the same level behind what is currently a worse defensive line.

Regardless, the addition of T.J. Edwards should be a significant boost to the Chicago Bears’ defense in the 2023 season. He brings experience, talent, and versatility to the linebacker corps, which should make the unit stronger and more consistent. The Bears’ defense should benefit from Edwards’ hard-hitting style and playmaking ability, and he should be a valuable asset for the team in the years to come.

And who knows, maybe he’ll actually be “all that” and also end up getting Freddie (metaphorically speaking of course, no one really wants Freddie Prinze Jr. anymore) AND the friendship and respect of all his peers.