The Buffalo Bills will need to find a replacement for starting linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who appears set to sign a free-agent contract with the Chicago Bears, per a tweet by Ian Rapoport.
A big splash: The #Bears are signing star LB Tremaine Edmunds.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 13, 2023
Later on Monday, ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter tweeted the financial details of Edmunds contract with the Bears, a reported four-year, $72 million deal that includes $50 million guaranteed. Chicago has just handed Edmunds the largest four-year deal for an NFL inside linebacker, a sum that will pay him nearly $18 million per season.
Bears are giving former Bills’ LB Tremaine Edmunds a 4-yr, $72M that includes $50M guaranteed, per source. It is the largest 4-year contract for an inside linebacker in the NFL.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2023
Edmunds, who will turn 25 this May, played his first five seasons with the Bills. As a first-round pick (16th overall) by Buffalo in the 2018 NFL Draft, Edmunds became the second-youngest draft pick in the history of the NFL. Standing 6’5” and weighing 250 pounds, Edmunds appeared set to play a cornerstone role on defense for the franchise, which moved up in the draft to select him. The Bills sent their first- (22nd pick) and third-round (65th) picks to the Baltimore Ravens for the opportunity to select Edmunds.
Tremaine Edmunds was the second of two first-round picks by the Bills (where they maneuvered up the board) in 2018. Buffalo’s first pick was of course quarterback Josh Allen.
A lightning rod for discussion among Bills Mafia, Edmunds finishes his Bills career having played in and started 74 games. Edmunds added five interceptions, two forced fumbles, 35 passes defended, 6.5 sacks, 565 total tackles (359 solo), 32 tackles for loss, 18 quarterback hits, and one safety to his resume with Buffalo.
The loss of Edmunds will be detrimental to the Bills’ defense, especially considering his role as the quarterback of the defense. Life without Edmunds was briefly on display last season, when he missed time to injury. His absence was clear, with Buffalo’s stop unit suffering to meet expectations they established with him on the field.
While many fans were often left wanting more from Edmunds in terms of game-changing plays, his role helped clear the way for his defensive teammates to succeed all over the field. It’s possible that Edmunds’ role was never fully appreciated by a large sector of the fan base simply because they didn’t understand the intricacies of his position as the leader on defense.
There was initially hope that general manager Brandon Beane and the front office would get something finalized with Edmunds and his agent last offseason. That never materialized, with the two sides far apart on a deal and Tremaine Edmunds opting instead to see how things would play out during his first opportunity in free agency. Now, Edmunds gets his chance to build on his legacy in the Windy City, home to an NFL team that has a rich linebacker history.
We wish Tremaine Edmunds the best with the Chicago Bears and thank him for everything he did for the Buffalo Bills and Western New York both on the field and off it.
Keep up with all of the Buffalo Bills’ free-agency additions and subtractions here.