On Friday, the Bears, per SportsTrust Advisors, inked strong safety Eddie Jackson to a four-year extension that is worth $58.4 million. Jackson’s contract, which also included $33 million guaranteed, will pay him an average of $14.6 million per season, making him the highest-paid safety in NFL history.
A fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft, Jackson, who starred at Alabama before joining the Bears, was heading into the final year of his rookie contract prior to Friday’s extension. Jackson’s play during his first three seasons certainly warrants the Bears’ decision to sign him longterm. In 46 regular season games, Jackson, a two-time Pro Bowler and 2018 All-Pro, has returned three of his ten career interceptions for touchdowns. Jackson’s stat line also includes 26 pass breakups, 184 tackles, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.
Jackson’s play has helped the Bears become on of the NFL’s top defenses during his first three seasons in Chicago. Since 2017, the Bears’ defense has been ninth, first and fourth in the league in scoring defense. Last season, Chicago’s defense was ninth in the league in both pass and run defense. They were also ninth in the NFL in third down efficiency.
Jackson’s new deal vaults him over the Titans‘ Kevin Byard as the NFL’s highest paid safety after Byard signed a five-year deal last summer that pays him an average of $14.1 million per season. Before that, the league’s highest paid safeties were the Redskins‘ Landon Collins and the Chiefs‘ Tyrann Mathieu, who each make $14 million per season.
It will be interesting to see how Jackson’s lucrative extension will impact NFL safeties that are approaching free agency this offseason. Among the notable safeties slated to become free agents this offseason include the Patriots‘ Devin McCourty, the Eagles‘ Rodney McLeod, the 49ers‘ Jimmie Ward and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Jackson’s teammate in Chicago.
Jackson’s contract may also impact future extensions at the safety position beyond 2020. One example could be a future deal between safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and the Steelers, as Fitzpatrick — who earned his first Pro Bowl selection after joining the Steelers two games into the 2019 season — is entering the third year of his rookie contract.