Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson appeared destined to be a perennial All-Pro defender following his first two seasons in the NFL. He established himself as one of the game’s top playmaking safeties in 2018 when he finished the year with six interceptions and three defensive touchdowns, but his play has steadily declined since. Jackson’s totaled only three interceptions since 2019.
Jackson’s statistical regression is magnified by the monster four-year, $58.4 million contract he signed in January 2020. His contract pays him the fifth-highest annual average salary among all safeties, but his play hasn’t been in that tier the last couple of years. The pressure on Jackson is ratcheting up.
The regime that drafted and paid him is gone, as is the organization’s loyalty. Jackson’s dead-cap figure drops from $24.5 million to $9.5 million next offseason, so if his play doesn’t take a big step forward in 2022, his roster status will become unclear.
However, early returns on Jackson from OTAs have been positive. He’s impressing the new coaching staff, led by Matt Eberflus. With an injection of secondary talent via the 2022 NFL Draft (Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker), Jackson will have an opportunity to make as many plays in 2022 as he did in his breakout 2019 season.
“He’s gotten off to a good start,” Bears safeties coach Andre Curtis said this week. “He’s working hard through OTAs and getting better. He’s asking the right questions, he’s being a leader in the room. I like all the stuff I’ve seen from him so far.”