Walker signing has potential to be under-the-radar steal for Bears


After watching Javon Hargrave, Dre'Mont Jones, and Marcus Davenport fly off the shelves on the first day of the NFL's legal negotiating window, the Bears finally struck a deal to bring reinforcements to their beleaguered pass rush.

The Bears and defensive end DeMarcus Walker agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with $16 million guaranteed, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago. NFL Media's Mike Garafolo was the first to report the deal.

In Walker, the Bears get a young rotational edge rusher with inside-outside versatility. Last season, Walker recorded seven sacks, 32 pressures, and 16 quarterback hits for the Tennessee Titans, per Pro Football Focus. Those numbers would have ranked first in all three categories on the Bears last season.

Safety Jaquan Brisker led the Bears with four sacks. Trevis Gipson was the high man with 30 pressures.

Walker now has back-to-back seasons of 30 pressures. Depending on what else general manager Ryan Poles does to address the defensive line situation, Walker should be able to come in and start immediately for a Bears team that was inept at pressuring the quarterback in 2022.

The Florida State product's ability to play both inside and outside should be appealing to the Bears as they look to rebuild their defensive line. In 2022, Walker played 183 snaps over the tackle, 107 outside the tackle, 124 in the B gap (DT), and 12 in the A gap (NT), per PFF.

Walker marks the fourth signing of the day for Poles, three of which have come on the defensive side as the Bears look to remake one of the league's worst units.

The Bears opened the day by agreeing to a three-year deal with Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards before agreeing to sign Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to a massive four-year, $72 million contract. Chicago's only offensive addition came via a three-year agreement with guard Nate Davis.

RELATED: Bears bet on Edmunds' potential with big deal

Walker is a nice addition to the Bears' defensive front. Not every signing can be a star, and players like Walker are valuable members of functional pass-rush units.

The Bears are banking on Walker's breakout season in 2022 being just the start. If the six-year veteran is finally putting everything together, this could be an under-the-radar steal for Poles and the Bears.

But he has to be the first move of many if the Bears are to take a serious step forward in 2023. There is still a gaping hole at the three-technique, and Poles has to add at least two more edge rushers in free agency and the draft to feel good about the defensive line as a whole.

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