Eddie Jackson’s ‘unfinished business’ — winning Super Bowl and retiring a Bear

The Bears safety agreed to a four-year deal Friday worth $58.4 million, with $33 million guaranteed. The annual salary of $14.6 million set a record for safeties.

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Bears safety Eddie Jackson intercepts a pass against the Vikings.

Bears safety Eddie Jackson intercepts a Hail Mary in Week 17 against the Vikings.

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eddie Jackson’s draft stock tumbled when he was carted off the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Oct. 22, 2016. It only worsened when the Alabama safety had a rod inserted to stabilize his broken left leg, forcing him to miss NFL Scouting Combine drills. Jackson fell to the fourth round of the draft, where Bears general manager Ryan Pace traded up five spots to draft him No. 112 overall in 2017.

That uncertainty feels so long ago.

Less than 3½ years later, Jackson agreed to a four-year deal Friday worth $58.4 million, with

$33 million guaranteed. The annual salary of

$14.6 million set a record for safeties.

“Mr. Pace took a chance on me, bringing me in here, fourth round, after the gruesome injury I had in college,” Jackson said Saturday, mere minutes -after the team made the contract official. “Just for him to have that belief in me is a huge blessing. I greatly -appreciate those guys. We can roll from there.”

Jackson said he has “a lot of unfinished business” left.

“The most important part is bringing that Super Bowl trophy back to Chicago,” he said. “I’m not going to stop until I can’t go no more. That’s one thing they’ll get from me. They’re going to get my hardest until I can’t go no more.

“I want to retire a Chicago Bear, and I want to do that after I help bring the Super Bowl to the city.”

The 8-8 Bears showed how far off that goal is, but they took an important step by crossing one of their top priorities off their offseason to-do list.

No NFL team is allowed to give a contract extension to a drafted player until he finishes his third season. Jackson signed a new deal only five days after the rules allowed. He said his agent already knew the parameters of a potential deal and presented it to him after the season ended last Sunday.

“He knew how much the season meant to me and how much winning means,” Jackson said. “And the season wasn’t going well, so he didn’t want to bother me with it at all.”

Even though Jackson was disappointed with his season total of two interceptions — both on quarterback heaves — advanced metrics considered him one of the league’s best safeties.

Coordinator Chuck Pagano warned Jackson before the season that opportunities might be scarcer than they were in 2018, when he intercepted six passes and returned two for touchdowns. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix alongside him, Jackson played more run support than he did in 2018. When Jackson was deep, teams were aware of him.

“Just to see the type of defense that we have, we have stars everywhere — on the front, the back end, the linebackers,” he said. “So the most important thing was just winning. And it was kind of frustrating, but, you know, we kept fighting.”

The Bears have outside linebacker Khalil Mack, inside linebacker Roquan Smith, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and Pace’s best draft pick, Jackson, under contract through at least 2021.

“It’s rare to find a player in this league with talent like Eddie’s,” Pace said in a statement. “He’s a rangy ball hawk with exceptional IQ, a great teammate and a natural leader. He is the anchor to the back end of our defense, and we are fortunate to have him.”

The feeling is mutual.

“They came and traded up a few picks in the fourth round to get me,” Jackson said. “Right now, all those moments are just replaying in my head. I’m forever thankful. I’m forever grateful.”

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