According to multiple NFL sources, the Chicago Bears have signed edge rusher Montez Sweat to a four-year $98 million extension on Saturday afternoon. The deal makes Sweat the fifth highest-paid edge rusher in the league, just behind Myles Garrett ($25 million), Joey Bosa ($27 million), T.J. Watt ($28 million) and Nick Bosa ($34 million). The extension came four days after the Bears had sent their second-round round pick to the Commanders at the trade deadline.
This deal had to get done to make the "loss" of a high second-round make any sense, especially considering that the San Francisco 49ers gave up a conditional third-round pick for Chase Young. This extension is one of the main reasons why the Bears had to give up a second-rounder because all indications are that Young will be a rental for the 49ers due to the $1.4 million in projected cap space next year, per Over The Cap.
People look at the price tag for Sweat and completely freak out, which Bears' Twitter has already done. However, there are several reasons that this is not the massive overpay that some are saying it is. Before getting into the player Montez Sweat, let's look at the Bears cap situation going into 2024. With this deal officially now on the books, the Bears have $82 million to spend in free agency without subtracting the contracts for draft picks. The Bears will have plenty of money to spend to re-sign Jaylon Johnson to a contract with an AAV of 17-18 million, which would bring it down the cap space to $65 million. Then, if they were to cut veterans, Cody Whitehair and Eddie Jackson, that would ballon their cap space back to $87 million. There will be no shortage of money for GM Ryan Poles to spend to improve this roster.
As for Sweat the player, I think that contract is a bit of an overpay, but not by much. The considerable criticism of Sweat is that he has never had 10+ sacks in a season for a guy being paid as much as he is. While fair to point out, Sweat has had 5+ sacks in every season of his career, including an eight-sack season last year, and already has 6.5 this year with nine games left in the season. The other part is that Sweat is a three-down player compared to other pass-rushers. According to Pro Football Focus, Sweat is the highest-graded edge run defender at 90.5 and is tied for second in the league in tackles for loss with 10. Aaron Donald, Maxx Crosby, and Ed Oliver are the three other players with 10, while the Vikings Danielle Hunter leads the NFL with 12.
While not a household name, Montez Sweat is an instant impact player for a Bears defense that sorely needed it. The Bears defensive line on the season has just 6.5 sacks and 21 tackles for loss heading into their week nine game against the Saints. If Sweat can produce 9-to-12 sack seasons while still providing good run defense, this trade will be one of the best that Ryan Poles has ever pulled off.