Former All-Pro Signing Expected to Backfire for Bears

Vince Carbonneau
May 27, 2024  (10:41)

Matt Eberflus coaching the Bears
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Bears Sign Veteran Safety Kevin Byard

Veteran safety Kevin Byard III joined the Chicago Bears, drawn by the team's upward trajectory and a talented defense. "I see guys who want to be successful. I see guys having fun together, making plays. You want to be part of something like that," Byard said during his introductory press conference at Halas Hall. The two-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler agreed to a two-year contract after spending eight seasons with the Titans and a stint with the Eagles in 2023.
Byard praised Coach Matt Eberflus' vision and expressed excitement about the Bears' defense, especially the secondary. He mentioned the strengths of fellow defensive backs Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, and defensive end Montez Sweat. Byard and Sweat attended rival high schools in the Atlanta area.
"I see a hungry defense," Byard remarked. "I see guys who want to be successful. I see guys having fun together, making plays. You want to be part of something like that. That's what's exciting for me. Just having a lot of pieces already in place on this defense, I can just come in and do what I need to do to help this team and help this defense take it to the next level."
Byard, a ninth-year pro, has impressive career stats: 130 games, 121 starts, 749 tackles, 28 interceptions, 66 pass breakups, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, 15 tackles-for-loss, 4.0 sacks, and two defensive touchdowns. His 28 interceptions are tied for fifth among active NFL players.
However, Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report predicts the Bears might regret signing Byard. He argues that Byard, turning 31 in August, isn't the player he once was and would be better suited as a depth player on a contender. Knox suggests the Bears should have targeted a younger safety like Xavier McKinney or Kamren Curl.
Despite Byard's accolades, his performance dropped in 2023, allowing a 74.6% completion rate and a passer rating of 102.1 when targeted. Knox also noted Chicago's significant salary cap space, suggesting that investing in a younger player would have been a better long-term strategy for a team not yet in title contention.
As it stands, Byard will start for the Bears in 2024, bringing his experience and leadership to a young and developing defense. While there are concerns about his recent performance, Byard's presence could still significantly impact the Bears' defensive unit.
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MAY 27   |   58 ANSWERS
Former All-Pro Signing Expected to Backfire for Bears

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