Eddie Jackson’s first two years in the NFL have been nothing short of spectacular.
Jackson has come up with eight interceptions, 11 turnovers, and five defensive touchdowns en route to establishing himself as one of the best safeties in football. Through 30 games as a pro, Jackson has shown he can do a little bit of everything at a high level and in an ultra-competitive division with three Pro Bowl quarterbacks and waves of impact pass-catchers and ball-carriers. Elite defenders in the secondary have crazy value in this modern era of football and Jackson figures to be well-compensated as soon as he is eligible to get new paper.
NFL.com’s Anthony Holzman-Escareno takes a shot at projecting the NFL’s next big contracts and puts a spotlight on the type of deal Jackson could receive from the Chicago Bears. Holzman-Escareno projects the talented safety will get up to $16 million annually. Wowzers! That’s a boat-load of dough!
On the low end of this projection, Jackson could match the $14 million average annual value that Landon Collins and Tyrann Mathieu received in the deals they signed during free agency last March. But it’s possible that Jackson could surpass those numbers and set a new bar with a contract that nets him $16 million per season. From there, Jackson could be in a position to jet past Collins’ $44.5 million in total guarantees and Earl Thomas’ $32 million guaranteed at signing, which is an all-time high for a safety. Without diving too deep into something that can’t happen until 2020, let’s just say Jackson is positioning himself to be the NFL’s highest-paid safety in due time.
Then again, we’re talking about football’s best coverage safety last season and a first-team All-Pro who has been a star since arriving on the scene and earning a starting gig from Week 1 of his rookie season. Whatever Jackson has coming to him in monetary form is going to be well earned.
But don’t fret just yet, Jackson isn’t hitting free agency until 2021.
In a previous era of Bears football, a projection like this would have shaken me. I would wonder if the organization would be willing to open up the purse strings and shell out that type of dough or if there would be ample cap space to squeeze in a player of Jackson’s talents. It would have driven me (and in turn, Brett, Michael, and probably all of you reading this) batty until the saga concluded and a contract resolution was reached. But maybe those issues aren’t going to be prevalent moving forward.
Sure, concerns will pop up (out of habit) when the Bears get to the point of talking extension with Jackson, but there are reasons to hush those voices in your head. GM Ryan Pace has been aggressive in rewarding players who were drafted and developed in Chicago and creative with clearing cap space for major expenditures. Those two factors could go a long way in keeping Jackson in Chicago for a long time. And if Jackson comes through with a third consecutive stellar season, it might be a matter of “when” and not “if” the Bears lock in their stud safety for the foreseeable future.