The Bears on Sunday signed left guard Cody Whitehair to a five-year contract extension through 2024. His rookie deal was due to expire after this season.
"We're fired up about that," said coach Matt Nagy. "You talk about somebody that deserves that, somebody that's worked hard to get to this point, somebody that we have developed within. We talk about trying to create our own stars and Cody exemplifies everything that we look for in a Chicago Bear as a player and as a person. I'm happy for him. The players are fired up. Now we can put that behind us and go roll."
Whitehair was selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2016 draft (56th overall) out of Kansas State. He has started all 16 games in each of his three seasons at center, a position he never played in college.
"Cody embodies everything we look for in a Chicago Bear and I'm excited for us as an organization to extend him five more years," said general manager Ryan Pace. "He is a great talent and unselfish teammate with a ton of pride in being a leader for us. It is always nice to reward our own and I know this will only drive Cody even more every day."
Whitehair felt that it was a important to finalize the extension before the start of the regular season "so we can just focus on this week and beating Green Bay."
"It feels great," Whitehair said. "Being here for an extended period of time is just great. This organization is great. The people in this building are great. It's just a blessing."
Last season Whitehair was named to his first career Pro Bowl. He and left tackle Charles Leno Jr. became the first Bears offensive line teammates to be named to the Pro Bowl since center Olin Kreutz and guard Ruben Brown in 2006, the last year the team reached the Super Bowl.
In 2018, Whitehair was part of an offensive line that helped the Bears score at least 24 points in 11 games, their most since they also tallied at least 24 points 11 times in 1995. The offense allowed only 33 sacks, tied for the eighth fewest in the NFL, and ranked 11th in rushing at 121.1 yards per game.
As a rookie in 2016, Whitehair was moved from guard to center shortly before the start of the regular season after the Bears signed veteran free-agent guard Josh Sitton. During this offseason, Whitehair was switched from center to left guard, flip-flopping positions with 2018 second-round pick James Daniels.
"Good things happen to good people, and it couldn't happen to a better person in Cody," quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said of the extension. "How hard he has worked over the years he has been here. He always puts the team first. In here early; last year to leave. Just a selfless player and does his job on the field. He definitely deserves everything he has gotten."
After Trubisky joined the Bears as the second pick in the 2017 draft, he instantly started to form a bond with Whitehair, who played center at the time. On Sunday, Trubisky described Whitehair as "one of the nicest people I've ever met" and a "super down-to-earth guy."
"He's going to do whatever he can for the team and the people around him," Trubisky said. "He just treats people with respect. He's the type of guy I consider my brother and he's the type of guy you want to surround yourself with and the type of guy you want in your circle and in your corner."