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Poles shares thoughts on Bears' free-agent additions

Bears general manager Ryan Poles
Bears general manager Ryan Poles

The first 24 hours of the new league year were highly productive for the Bears.

After landing star receiver DJ Moore and four draft picks in a blockbuster trade that became official Wednesday, general manager Ryan Poles followed by agreeing to terms with six free agents.

The group consists of linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards guard Nate Davis, defensive end DeMarcus Walker, running back Travis Homer and quarterback P.J. Walker.

"We're bringing in players that fit our scheme and help improve our roster so we can get better," Poles said. "Overall, just really excited. I thought we did some really good things. We got better as a football team."

During the first wave of free agency, Poles has been selective and disciplined—just as he intended entering the process.

"We stuck to our plan," he said. "And that's really to marry a fit for what we're trying to do here—our culture, our scheme—with value. And I thought we did a good job and that led to some really good additions.

"The goal going into this offseason deal was to improve our roster now but also stay flexible in the future so we can stay healthy, opportunistic and continue to get better because obviously we know this process takes some time to do it the right way, and I thought we set ourselves up nicely to do that."

It's no coincidence that five of the seven players the Bears have added via trade or free agency are 26 or younger: Moore (25), Edmunds (24), Edwards (26), Davis (26) and Homer (24).

"Big emphasis," Poles said. "I think that's important in free agency, is having a young team. It's a young man's game. Not that you can't play and be productive as an older player either, but it was important to me to stay young, fast, explosive. And a lot of these guys do that."

Here's a closer look at the free agents the Bears have signed:

Edmunds spent his first five NFL seasons with the Bills after being selected by Buffalo with the 18th pick in the first round of the 2018 draft out of Virginia Tech.

He joins the Bears having started all 74 games he's played, registering 565 tackles, 32 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, five interceptions and two forced fumbles. He has recorded at least 100 tackles in each of his five NFL seasons.

Edmunds was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2019 and 2020, was named a Bills captain in 2019 and has also started eight career playoff games. Last year he opened all 13 games he played, compiling 102 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, one sack and one interception.

Said Poles: "He's special. He's big. He's long. He fits our scheme. Pumped to have him. Another really good leader in our locker room and on our football team."

Edwards, who grew up as a Bears fan in north suburban Lake Villa, Ill., returns to join his hometown team after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Eagles from 2019-22.

After entering the league with Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent from Wisconsin—where he played one year with Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn—Edwards appeared in 61 games with 47 starts for the Eagles, registering 389 tackles, 20 tackles-for-loss, 5.0 sacks, two interceptions, 13 pass breakups and two forced fumbles.

Said Poles: "Awesome story. Really good player. Instinctive. He's going to help our defense get better. And how cool is it for a guy like that to come back to his hometown team and play? He is so fired up. I mean, like he is so fired up to be on this squad. He wanted to be here, which is really cool."

Davis was selected by the Titans in the third round of the 2019 draft out of Charlotte. He started 54 of 55 games he played with Tennessee over the past four seasons. He also started five playoff games.

With the Titans, Davis helped opened holes for star running back Derrick Henry. During their four seasons as teammates, Henry was selected to three Pro Bowls, named first-team All-Pro in 2020 and second-team All-Pro in 2019, and led the NFL in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2019 and 2020.

Said Poles: "Nate Davis bolsters our offensive line. Young guy that can get moving at the point and really good in pass protection. We should get better up front."

Take a look at new Bears offensive lineman Nate Davis in action. The 6-3, 316-pounder started 54 of 55 games he played with Tennessee over the past four seasons.

Walker has appeared in 66 NFL games with 13 starts over six seasons with the Broncos (2017-20), Texans (2021) and Titans (2022). He has compiled 114 tackles, 19.5 sacks, 24 tackles-for-loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Walker was selected by Denver in the second round of the 2017 draft out of Florida State. He blossomed last year in Tennessee, playing in all 17 games with six starts and establishing career highs with 32 tackles, 7.0 sacks, 10 tackles-for-loss and 16 quarterback hits.

Said Poles: "DeMarcus Walker adds a big, tough, violent, heavy-handed guy that can play defensive end and kick inside and rush, too, so we're pumped about that."

Take a look at new Bears defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker in action. Last season with the Titans, Walker experienced a breakout year, recording several career highs with 32 tackles, 16 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks.

Homer was selected by the Seahawks in the sixth round of the 2019 draft out of Miami. He appeared in 49 games with two starts over four seasons with Seattle, rushing for 453 yards and one touchdown on 83 carries, catching 52 passes for 464 yards and one TD and averaging 24.7 yards on 18 kickoff returns.

Homer excelled on special teams. As a rookie, he took a direct snap on a fake punt in a Monday night game against the Vikings and picked up 29 yards and a first down. In Week 8 of 2021, he recovered an onside kick and returned it 44 yards for a TD versus the Jaguars. Five weeks later, his 73-yard TD run on a fake punt against the 49ers earned him NFC Special Team Player of the Week honors.

In a preseason loss to the Bears last summer in Seattle, Homer rushed for 44 yards on five carries.

Said Poles: "That's a guy I've loved since college. Really good special-teams player, but when he has opportunities to run, he makes the most of it. He's explosive. He's fast. You probably all saw him in the preseason game last year."

Take a look at new Bears running back Travis Homer in action. The 5-10, 202-pounder appeared in 49 games with two starts over four seasons with Seattle, rushing for 453 yards and one touchdown on 83 carries, catching 52 passes for 464 yards and one TD and averaging 24.7 yards on 18 kickoff returns.

Walker spent the past three seasons with the Panthers, appearing in 15 games with seven starts and throwing for 1,461 yards with five touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 63.9 passer rating.

Last season he played in six games with five starts, passing for 731 yards with three TDs, three interceptions and a 78.0 rating. Two of his three TDs came on passes to new Bears teammate Moore, including a 62-yard bomb that tied an eventual loss to the Falcons 34-34 with :12 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Said Poles: "A guy that really got the opportunity last year and did some good things. Fits what we're trying to do, so we're pumped about him."