UPDATE: It’s OFFICIAL!
What can we say? We do it big on 9/1.
#65 officially holding it down in Chicago through at least 2024! pic.twitter.com/fnJvNFvnpH
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 1, 2019
The rest of our original post on the extension is as follows below.
In what is becoming a tradition unlike any other, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace has signed a home-grown player to a healthy extension:
Bears are signing guard Cody Whitehair to a 5-year, $52.5 million extension that includes $27.5 million guaranteed, per sources. The deal, negotiated by Jeff Nalley and Graylan Crain, gives Whitehair the second-largest guarantee for a guard extension in NFL history.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 1, 2019
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Bears and Cody Whitehair are agreeing on a five-year extension worth as much as $52.5 million. Whitehair’s new deal includes $27.5 million in guarantees, which Schefter reports is the second-largest amount of guaranteed money in an extension for a guard in league history. Once the pen goes to paper and the contract gets signed, Whitehair will be among the top-5 highest-paid guards in the league in terms of total salary, while ranking ninth in average salary per year.
Whitehair joins Eddie Goldman (2018), Akiem Hicks (2017), and Charles Leno Jr. (2017) as recent home-grown talents to get late-summer extensions before the start of the season. I could certainly get used to the Bears rewarding their own and keeping their top talents around.
Whitehair positioned himself to get new paper by out-performing his rookie deal and establishing himself as one of football’s best centers. The Kansas State product has not missed a start since being drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, with most of his playing time coming at center. There were a few games during the 2017 season when injuries forced Whitehair to spend some time at both guard spots. And while he struggled there, most of his issues could be pinned to the chaos that came when he was shifting positions weekly. His best year might have come in 2018, when he earned Pro Bowl honors and a top-10 positional grade from Pro Football Focus. Now, the Bears are moving Whitehair back to his original position — and will pay him handsomely while doing so.
Remember, the Bears originally drafted Whitehair with the intent to be a guard back in 2016. But plans changed when the team signed Josh Sitton as a free agent during that preseason, which shifted Whitehair to center. Whitehair performed admirably in that spot, but the drafting of James Daniels (a center by trade who ended up at guard as a rookie) has allowed the Bears to rearrange things along the offensive line and put two quality linemen back at their original positions.
There are still details such as cap ramifications and how this deal could impact others that will shake out as the day rolls on, and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. But for now, it’s good to have a key cog back in the mix.