Bears Urged to Target Packers DB, Former 1st-Rounder as Eddie Jackson Replacement

The Chicago Bears need safety help after parting ways with long-time starter Eddie Jackson, and a rival Green Bay Packers defensive back is poised to hit free agency in March.

Lester Wiltfong Jr. of SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron on Saturday, February 17, took a look at five options the Bears can pursue in free agency. Among the most notable was Darnell Savage, who the Packers selected 21st overall in the 2019 NFL draft.

Darnell Savage, Packers

“Savage will be 27 when camp begins and is a former first-round pick of Green Bay,” Wiltfong wrote. “In his five seasons with the Pack, he has started 69 games and has recorded nine interceptions. Last year, he missed seven games with a calf injury. Savage is a good player, not a great one, but his overall play is better than Jackson’s as he has similar ball skills and plays the run and tackles better than Jackson.”

Darnell Savage Quality, Affordable Option for Chicago Bears

Darnell Savage, Packers
Darnell Savage, Packers
GettySafety Darnell Savage of the Green Bay Packers will be a free agent in March 2024.

Savage was sometimes maligned over his first five seasons with the Packers, but the advanced metrics tell the story of one of the more talented safeties in the league last season.

Per Pro Football Focus, Savage finished the year as the 15th-best safety out of 95 players who saw enough snaps to qualify at the position. He has also been reliable from a health standpoint, appearing in 72 of 83 games over the course of his NFL career.

There are a couple of impending free-agent safeties in Budda Baker of the Arizona Cardinals and Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who would step into the Bears’ secondary as elite level playmakers on Day 1.

However, as Wiltfong noted, their salary demands could price Chicago out considering other positions that will require significant investment, such as a three-technique defensive tackle, another edge-rusher alongside Montez Sweat and a No. 2 wide receiver option next to DJ Moore.

“Yes, the Bears have nearly $70 [million] in cap space, but a team can only get so much done with that amount of money. They can’t give huge contracts to a player to fill a need at every position,” Wiltfong wrote. “According to [Spotrac], Winfield’s new contract should be in the area of $18.4 million a year. If the Bears sign a top edge player, I just can’t see them spending that much on a safety.”

Savage played last season on the $7.9 million fifth-year option the Packers exercised to keep him on the roster in 2023.

Jaquan Brisker Leader on Bears Defense Following Departure of Eddie Jackson

Eddie Jackson
Eddie Jackson
GettySafety Eddie Jackson formerly of the Chicago Bears.

The Bears announced on February 15 that they had released Jackson along with offensive lineman Cody Whitehair.

Jackson played in and started 100 games for the Bears across seven years in Chicago. He earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2018 and Pro Bowl nods in 2018 and 2019. Jackson most recently signed a four-year deal with the franchise in January 2020 that was worth $58.4 million in total.

With Jackson’s departure, Jaquan Brisker steps into the role of leader in the Bears’ safety room. The second-year player has started 30 games, recording 209 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions over that span, per Pro Football Reference.

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