Bears safety Eddie Jackson’s whopping four-year, $58.4 million contract extension is a landmark deal for both sides.
By agreeing to the extension with Jackson on Friday, general manager Ryan Pace secured the future of the best draft pick he has ever made. He selected him in the fourth round at No. 112 overall in 2017 — 12 safeties were drafted ahead of him — and Jackson has grown into one of the NFL’s best at his position.
He also became the highest-paid safety in league history. The contract, which includes $33 million guaranteed, sets a bar for average annual salary at the position at $14.6 million.
Jackson’s agency, SportsTrust Advisors, announced the terms. The Bears have not commented publicly.
The jackpot contract comes after Jackson played his first three seasons for a total of $2.7 million. The upcoming season is the last one of his rookie deal, and he’s scheduled to make about $900,000.
Jackson, 27, has been a full-time starter from the day he arrived and has 10 interceptions, 184 tackles, five fumble recoveries and two touchdowns in three seasons.
He was an All-Pro in 2018 and has been voted to the Pro Bowl twice.
The Bears have their top three defensive players locked in for at least the next two seasons. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack’s contract runs through 2024, and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is signed through 2021. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith and cornerback Kyle Fuller are also under contract for at least two more seasons.
The contract is a milestone for Jackson in his quest to prove he’s the best player at his position.
Jackson was often frustrated in 2019 because his interceptions dropped to two after getting six in 2018 and he didn’t score any touchdowns. Nonetheless, he was exceptional in coverage and figures to have a long run as an elite safety.
“Just being that competitor that you are and deep down knowing the type of player you are, you feel like you should be in more positions to make different plays,” Jackson said late in the season. “All you can do is buy in and do what you’re asked by the coaches, and that’s just to take care of my business and dominate my square.”
Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano defended the dip in Jackson’s statistics by saying it wasn’t a comprehensive reflection of his impact.
“There are gonna be years that you have seven, eight, nine [interceptions], and there are gonna be years that you have zero, one or two,” Pagano said. “Sometimes you just don’t have the same opportunities and things like that. He’s a great player.”