LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) — Tremaine Edmunds walked into Halas Hall on Thursday morning dressed to the nines, showcasing the build of a defensive end, boasting the athleticism of a receiver and hoping to become the next famed Bears linebacker.
“It’s just a great tradition,” Edmunds said. “I mean, you talk about great linebackers, in particular middle linebackers, why wouldn’t you want to come to a place like this?
“I’m excited to start my story in Chicago now and continue that great tradition of middle linebackers here.”
Edmunds was the Bears' prized pickup in free agency this week, as he signed a four-year deal with Chicago worth up to $72 million. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Edmunds offers a rare combination of size and athleticism at linebacker.
Edmunds, who will turn 25 in May, was a two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker over five seasons in Buffalo. A first-round pick of the Bills in the 2018 NFL Draft, Edmunds was the second off-ball linebacker selected in that class after Roquan Smith went No. 8 overall to the Bears.
Now, the Bears are counting on Edmunds to help establish head coach Matt Eberflus’ defensive identity and become a playmaker.
“He's special,” Bears general manager Ryan Poles said of Edmunds, who landed the largest contract that Poles has awarded in his Chicago tenure. “He's big, he's long, he fits our scheme. Pumped to have him.”
The Bears haven't revealed how they'll arrange their linebacker group after they also signed 26-year-old T.J. Edwards on a three-year, $19.5-million deal in free agency. Edmunds and Edwards each played the middle linebacker position with their previous teams.
Edmunds is willing to play wherever the Bears want him, he said. He posted 565 tackles over five seasons with the Bills, making at least 102 tackles each year. Edmunds is also capable of rushing the passer and making plays in coverage.
“The length, the speed, the coverage ability in terms of just the space that he covers,” Poles said. “Matt (Eberflus) and his group think they can take him over the edge with some of the ball production.”
Edmunds’ new teammate Edwards sees the dynamic ability that he can offer the Bears’ defense.
“Definitely just being a linebacker, I can feel and I can see his game all across the tape,” Edwards said.
The Bears saw potential in Edmunds when he was a draft prospect in 2018. Then-coach Matt Nagy and then-general manager Ryan Pace brought him in for a visit at Halas Hall, which hadn't yet undergone its massive renovation.
Poles and this Bears regime were drawn to Edmunds because of his body of work and also because he's just entering his prime. For Edmunds, the opportunity in Chicago was too appealing to pass up.
“It’s more than just about money for me,” Edmunds said. “It's about relationships. It's about building something special. It's about building a culture and definitely building that here, brick by brick.
“The Chicago Bears are known for their linebackers, and I want to be able to write my story and be that next great linebacker here.”
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.
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