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Eberflus lauds Bears' offseason additions as 'outstanding'

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Coach Matt Eberflus is thrilled about the additions the Bears have made on both sides of the ball this offseason, especially at the skill positions.

“We really feel the acquisitions we’ve had so far have been outstanding.” Matt Eberflus

General manager Ryan Poles has dealt for six-time Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen from the Chargers and center Ryan Bates from the Bills and signed running back D'Andre Swift, tight end Gerald Everett and safety Kevin Byard III, among others.

"We really feel the acquisitions we've had so far have been outstanding," Eberflus said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando. "The main topic is we added all the skill to the offense. The weapons at running back with Swift and on the outside with Keenan and Everett at tight end paired with DJ [Moore] and Cole [Kmet] are going to be tough to cover. It's going to be exciting to watch how we put those guys together."

New Bears offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, offensive line coach Chris Morgan and passing game coordinator Thomas Brown are currently formulating a scheme.

"All those guys are a really important part of that," Eberflus said. "I've been involved in that as well. It's important we put those pieces in the right spots."

The arrival of Allen should provide a huge boost. The 6-2, 211-pounder spent his first 11 NFL seasons with the Chargers, catching 904 passes for 10,530 yards and 59 touchdowns. Allen was voted to five straight Pro Bowls from 2017-21 and was chosen for a sixth time last season when he led the NFL with a career-high and franchise-record 108 receptions for 1,243 yards and seven TDs despite missing the final four games with a heel injury.

With his large catch radius and meticulous route-running ability, the Bears consider him an ideal veteran receiver to pair with a young quarterback.

The thing that Eberflus appreciates most about Allen is his "situational excellence."

"He's been great in situations," Eberflus said. "When you've got to have a play, he can make that play. He's been great on third down, great in two-minute, great in critical situations. He's a disciplined and a master route runner and he has the ability to be open and stay open with his body. He understands how to do that."

In Swift, the Bears are getting a big-play threat who is equally adept at running the ball and catching passes out of the backfield.

The 25-year-old has appeared in 56 NFL games for the Lions (2020-22) and Eagles (2023), rushing for 2,779 yards and 23 touchdowns on 593 carries and catching 195 passes for 1,412 yards and eight TDs.

"We just felt like we wanted a home-run hitter there," Eberflus said. "I think D'Andre brings that. We wanted a weapon back, a guy who could be a weapon out of the backfield … He's got tremendous speed. You can feel that when he is running the football, but you can definitely feel that as a pass catcher.

"I know that in situational football, it's very difficult to be able to have the two guys outside covered, two tight ends covered, and then you've got another situation where you have the weapon back inside, so that was critical."

Eberflus also praised the addition of Byard, a two-time first-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection who has appeared in 130 NFL games over eight seasons with the Titans (2016-23) and Eagles (2023). The 5-11, 212-pounder has registered 749 tackles, 28 interceptions, 66 pass breakups, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, 15 tackles-for-loss and two touchdowns.

Byard's 28 interceptions are tied for the fifth most among active NFL players.

"Kevin being back there at the safety position is going to be big for our secondary," Eberflus said. "He's a ballhawk guy. We're excited about that acquisition, and I'm excited about working with him."

Bidding adieu: It wasn't easy for Eberflus to say goodbye to Justin Fields, who was traded to the Steelers. Poles was at Eberflus' home March 16 when they called the quarterback to deliver the news.

"Obviously a very difficult decision we had to make," Eberflus said. "But we thought it was the right decision for everybody involved. Justin and I built a relationship over the last two years. I just wished him the best and told him that I loved him. We'll continue our friendship. If he ever wants to call or visit, we'll definitely do that."

Getting to know you: Eberflus enjoyed last week's visit to USC, where a large Bears contingent led by Poles took top quarterback prospect Caleb Williams out for dinner with some USC receivers and watched him work out at the school's Pro Day.

"It was great to see him interact," Eberflus said. "A great personality. Great character. You could see that easily during the dinner. And then the next day we spent some time doing the football knowledge. I started out about an hour and 20 minutes, just him and I in the room together, just really hearing his journey.

"What I gleaned from that is how his mother and father love him very much. Very supportive. You could see his character, his football character there, his football knowledge. It was a really good visit."

The Bears plan to bring Williams to Halas Hall the first week of April for a "top 30" visit.

"We'll just continue on with some of the install that we installed there in the Pro Day," Eberflus said. "We'll keep continuing on that journey, teaching him more of the offense and then having him give it back to us and see where he is that way. He's been great that way. Spend some more time visiting with him. He'll get a chance to spend some more time with the offensive staff that wasn't there at the Pro Day. It's going to be good."

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