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The Bears on Wednesday bolstered their defense by agreeing to a four-year contract with unrestricted free agent linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, pending a physical.
Edmunds, 24, 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.
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The 6-5, 250-pounder 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.
Former Bears cornerback Leslie Frazier-a starter on the 1985 Super Bowl XX championship team-served as Edmunds' defensive coordinator in all five of his seasons in Buffalo. Frazier told ChicagoBears.com that he texted Bears coach Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams to congratulate them on landing "one of the premier linebackers in our league."
"They're getting a tremendous player, a guy who has been to a few Pro Bowls, so that tells you that he's played at a high level," Frazier said. "And he's still a very young player; five years in the league and he's 24 years old. He's really ascended. He's not a guy who's reached his peak by any means.
"And he's a tremendous leader as well. Not only is he a good football player-a guy who can make plays-but his teammates, they really gravitate to him, and they look to him to lead, both on the field and off the field, in the locker room and the classroom. He's that type of guy. They're getting a special player who's a tremendous leader and who's also a great person. His parents did a great job of instilling in him the importance of integrity and just being a high character individual."
Edmunds, who will turn 25 on May 2, grew up in Virginia and was an all-state tight end and linebacker at Dan River High School in Ringgold, Va. As a junior at Virginia Tech in 2017, he was a finalist for the Butkus Award after producing 108 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
When Edmunds was selected by the Bills in 2018, he became the second younger player to be drafted in NFL history at 19 years 11 months 24 days old. The only younger draft pick was Amobi Okoye at 19 years 10 months 18 days in 2007.
As a rookie, 20-year-old Tremaine became the youngest player in NFL history to intercept a pass when he picked off the Jets' Sam Darnold.
Edmunds comes from a football family. His brother, Terrell, was also picked in the first round of the 2018 draft, at No. 28 by the Steelers. With Terrell's selection, he and Tremaine became the first pair of brothers to be chosen in the first round of the same draft in league history. A third brother, Trey, played in 37 NFL games as a running back with the Saints (2017) and Steelers (2018-21). Their father, Ferrell Edmunds, was a two-time Pro Bowl tight end with the Dolphins (1988-92) and Seahawks (1993-94).