NEW ORLEANS – Just four days after acquiring Montez Sweat in a trade with the Commanders, the Bears on Saturday signed the veteran defensive end to a four-year contract extension through the 2027 season.
"I'm excited for our entire team," said general manager Ryan Poles. "To get another playmaker, a pass rusher, a guy really that can play all three downs and elevate our whole team, I'm excited about that, for sure."
After completing the trade Tuesday, Poles told reporters that he was "really confident that we can get a deal done," adding: "I'm hoping it won't take too long."
It didn't take long at all.
"The trade part was difficult to get that part done," Poles said Saturday, "but there's a second phase to it which is to get him signed up long term. That was our intention from the very beginning. It's a little bit difficult when you do the extension part after the trade, but he has really good agents. I was really happy with his team, with Damarius Bilbo and his negotiation skills. I thought both sides did a really good job getting the job done."
Sweat signed the contract extension at the Bears' hotel in New Orleans after the team arrived for Sunday's game against the Saints.
"It's a blessing," Sweat said. "It's part of God's plan. Having security to go out there and play full and just getting what I'm owed, it's a blessing. This is what every player wishes for, to get to the second deal and to reap the benefits of your work. Now I can go out there and play free."
Sweat is the second defensive lineman to sign a contract extension with the Bears in three days. Tackle Andrew Billings inked a new two-year deal Thursday.
Sweat was selected by the Commanders with the 26th pick in the 2019 draft out of Mississippi State. He started all 67 games he appeared in over five seasons with Washington, registering 197 tackles, 35.5 sacks, 47 tackles-for-loss, one interception that he returned 15 yards for a touchdown and nine forced fumbles.
The 6-6, 262-pounder opened all eight of the Commanders games this season, compiling 32 tackles and a team-leading 6.5 sacks, including six tackles and 1.5 sacks in a loss to the Bears Oct. 5 on Thursday Night Football at FedExField.
In Chicago, Sweat is expected to bolster a pass rush that has produced only 10 sacks in eight games this season.
"It adds more fuel to our defense," said safety Eddie Jackson. "You're always excited when you get a good player like that added to the roster. It's more about how he is in the locker room, and he's a cool dude, man. He's funny. He already fits in with everybody so well. It's dope to have him, to get more players in this defense."
"This defense is already together and we're already one brotherhood," said defensive end DeMarcus Walker. "To add more talent to it, I mean you're licking your chops … I'm definitely happy to have him come. Good talent. Been a fan of his."
Sweat and Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby are the only NFL players who have compiled at least six sacks, 10 tackles-for-loss and 11 quarterback hits this season. But the Bears view him as more than a pass rusher.
"When I evaluated him coming out from Mississippi State, and also since he's been in the pros," coach Matt Eberflus said, "what's unique about him is that he's one heck of a pass rusher, but he also, talking to the guys that have played against him in the building and just watching his tape, he's a really good run player and plays with a great motor … Super excited to have him, for sure."
Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy served as Mississippi State's offensive coordinator and receivers coach in 2018 when Sweat was a senior with the Bulldogs and was named first-team All-American after registering 12 sacks.
"He was great," Getsy said. "Great teammate. Good work ethic. I jokingly said to the coaches I can remember instead of running the gassers with the D-linemen and stuff, like the conditioning and stuff, he would be with the DBs and keeping up with those guys. He's always been an impressive guy, and more importantly, a great teammate.
Getsy described Sweat as a player that offenses always must be aware of.
"The cool part about him is I remember him as a college player being a great pass rusher," Getsy said. "I think what he's done with his game since he's been in the NFL, he's become a great run defender as well. Having that dual threat, playing the game in all phases is really where he's developed."
After practicing with the Bears Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Sweat is expected to play Sunday against the Saints.
"He's been in there with our ones, with our twos, with our rush group, and he's picking up things really fast," Eberflus said. "So we expect to play him at different spots and we're excited where he is in his progression. He's played all along the line—right and left—so we're excited where he is for this particular game."
Sweat's talent and versatility will give the Bears a multitude of options on defense.
"It opens up a lot of things," Eberflus said. "You can do a lot of things with the caliber of player like he is. And we've had some in the past that were like that, that were the premier players like that. We certainly try to enhance it and put them on the matchups that we want, along the line. That's important to do."
Sweat is the type of elite player who no doubt will make those around him better.
"Whenever you add a good football player to your team, no matter what position, you improve your team," added cornerbacks coach/defensive passing game coordinator Jon Hoke. "He'll have an impact because he is a pass rusher and he's very good at it, obviously. He'll speed the quarterback up as much as anything else.
"I can remember when I was here in '09, we were middle of the road defensively and then in 2010 we went and got a couple pieces defensively and it was an 11-5 team and we got better. He'll impact our team as good players do."
Check out photos of new Bears defensive lineman Montez Sweat in action.