Two of the most important reserves on the Bears’ defense are officially back in the fold:
— Chicago Bears (@BearsPR) April 15, 2019
The Chicago Bears announced the re-signings of defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris and outside linebacker Isiah Irving. Both players were Exclusive Rights Free Agents, who couldn’t negotiate or sign contracts with anyone but the Bears after accruing less than three seasons in the NFL. Still, it’s good to officially have them back in the mix.
Irving played 13 games and picked up his first career sack as he stepped up as a reserve edge rusher and core special teams player after Sam Acho suffered a season-ending injury early in the year. Had it not been for the team re-signing Aaron Lynch, Irving would have been the first option off the bench as a pass-rusher behind Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd. But with Lynch back, Irving can slide back into a familiar role as his development and climb up the depth chart continues.
There was a time when we thought Robertson-Harris was going to be an outside-of-the-box option as a reserve edge defender. And while the Bears could still use him there in spurts, having Lynch and Irving in the fold helps fill out the depth chart. Robertson-Harris set career-bests in games played (16), defensive snaps (353), sacks (3), tackles (22), tackles-for-loss (3), and quarterback hits (11). This could be a big season for Robertson-Harris, who has a role in the rotation of defensive ends playing across from Akiem Hicks and owns pass-rushing potential no matter where he lines up. It will be interesting to see how new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano deploys him in 2019.
Robertson-Harris and Irving join Rashaad Coward as Exclusive Rights Free Agents who are re-joining the team. Depth is good. And having it with players who have been in the system for a while has its perks.