The Chicago Bears' vaunted middle linebacker tradition is adding another notable chapter.
Tremaine Edmunds is leaving the Bills to sign with the Bears on a front-loaded, four-year deal for $72 million, with $50 million guaranteed, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday.
Edmunds is the latest piece of a flurry of moves for the Bears on the first day of the free agency negotiating window. The team also agreed to deals with former Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards and ex-Titans offensive guard Nate Davis, Rapoport reported.
Chicago entered free agency with the most salary cap space in the league.
The franchise has undergone major changes since the arrival of general manager Ryan Poles, who shipped out several veterans last year, including Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn. Edmunds and Edwards are expected to be two big parts of a remade Bears defense.
The signing of Edmunds is also fascinating considering the contentious negotiations last year with Smith before he was traded to the Ravens. The Bears clearly balked at Smith's long-term contract demands, and he ended up signing a five-year, $100 million extension in Baltimore.
That $20M-per-year average is higher than the $18 million annual average for Edmunds. The Ravens also gave Smith one additional year, although the Bears ended up giving Edmunds more guaranteed money than Smith ($45 million) received, but Chicago was able to afford Edwards and Edmunds for less total money than Smith received.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Edmunds, who was one of the youngest unrestricted free agents at 24 years old, is a two-time Pro Bowler. In 13 starts last season, he made 106 tackles, one interception, seven passes defensed and one sack. Edmunds, who is regarded for his coverage ability, also had five passes defended in two playoff games for the Bills last season.
The Bears' middle linebacker tradition -- from Bill George to Dick Butkus to Mike Singletary to Brian Urlacher -- is as storied as any other NFL franchise can boast. Now they'll be counting on Edmunds to man the position in Matt Eberflus' defense after the coach previously helped turn Colts LB Shaq Leonard into a star in Indianapolis.
Edmunds is the brother of Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds and former NFL running back Trey Edmunds. Their father, Ferrell, was a tight end for the Dolphins and Seahawks in the 1980s and 1990s.