One position that remained a bit of a question mark for the Chicago Bears defense looking towards the draft was safety. While Eddie Jackson remains the starter, it wasn’t clear what the team was doing at the second starting spot. Would Deon Bush or DeAndre Houston-Carson get a chance to start? Did the team plan to add somebody early in the draft? An answer finally arrived on Monday morning as Tashaun Gipson chose to re-sign with the team according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.
The veteran was a strong pickup for the Bears last season. He played every game, made 66 tackles, and snagged two interceptions. One could easily argue he outplayed Jackson. Bringing him back makes plenty of sense for Chicago. With lots of turnover happening at quarterback, the Bears no doubt prefer to keep things status quo at safety. Trying to overhaul one secondary position is easier than two.
Per source, safety Tashaun Gipson has agreed to terms on a one-year deal to return to the Chicago Bears.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) April 19, 2021
Gipson returning was always something that seemed likely.
He made it clear he desired to do so. The Bears were content to let him test the market to see if he could find another team that would give a bigger contract. The fact he’s returning on a one-year deal confirms he didn’t get any offers he liked. Chicago is a familiar spot for him. Odds are GM Ryan Pace managed to bring him back on a cheap deal. It might not be the flashiest move, but it is the sensible one.
Does this preclude the Bears from further adding to the position in the draft? Not necessarily. However, the current outlook suggests they’re already set. Jackson and Gipson as the starter, Bush and Houston-Carson as the primary backups, Marqui Christian and Jordan Lucas battling for a fifth and final spot. That is a depth chart filled with lots of experience and special teams value.
Chicago Bears defense still needs to get younger
While Gipson returning is good, it doesn’t erase a problem that must be addressed at some point. That being age on defense. He turns 31-years old this season. Jackson turns 28 in December. While the matter is not pressing, the Bears have to start thinking about adding some new blood at safety. So while it may not be a priority in the draft, there is a strong possibility they could grab one on Day 3.
Pace has already had success with such an approach before. He found Adrian Amos in the 5th round in 2015. He found Jackson in the 4th round in 2017. Chicago has five picks between the 5th and 6th rounds. There should be a number of interesting names available in that window they can grab and potentially develop behind their starting tandem. The Chicago Bears defense would benefit in the long run.
For now, Gipson should be the guy for 2021.
It will be interesting to see if he’s used differently from last season. Remember that Sean Desai is taking over as the defensive coordinator with Chuck Pagano retiring. He promised a return to more of the Vic Fangio concepts. That means Gipson could find himself down in the box more often with Jackson playing high. Is he prepared for such an adjustment? That will be something to watch.