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Bears sign defensive back Kevin Byard

Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears Safety Kevin Byard

Prior to kickoff of the 2024 NFL Free Agency period on Wednesday, March 13, the Chicago Bears made several moves and agreed to terms with defensive back Kevin Byard on a two-year contract through 2025. The team also re-signed long snapper Patrick Scales to a one-year contract and added offensive lineman Ryan Bates from the Buffalo Bills, via trade in exchange for the Bears 2024 fifth-round pick, according to Bears PR.

The Bears said Byard, a two-time Pro Bowler, comes to Chicago with eight seasons of experience, most recently with the Philadelphia Eagles, was originally drafted in the third round (64th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans; he was traded to the Eagles in 2023.

The Bears added that the 5’11, 212-pounder has appeared in 130 regular season games in his career with 121 starts, as well as starting eight post-season games. Byard has amassed 730 tackles (503 solo) with 28 interceptions (returned for 333 yards with one defensive touchdown), 66 passes defensed, 19 quarterback hits, 15 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, four fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles. He also adds 19 special teams’ tackles (11 solo).

Since entering the League in 2016, he ranks first in tackles among defensive backs, third in interceptions and 21st in passes defensed. He was named First-Team All-Pro in 2017 and 2021.

Byard started all 16 games he appeared in last season for the Titans and Eagles, recording 122 tackles (80 solo) with one interception. In 2022, Byard led the Titans with four interceptions and 106 tackles (68 solo). This marked his fifth season (2017-19, 2021-22), and second consecutive, where he led the Titans in interceptions, and it was his third straight season leading them in tackles.

Prior to 2021, no previous Titans/Oilers player had led the team in both interceptions and tackles in a single season. Byard accomplished the feat in consecutive years.

Scales will enter his ninth season with Chicago in 2024. He joined the Bears in 2015 after spending the 2014 season with the Baltimore Ravens. The 10-year NFL veteran has played in 122 NFL games throughout his career, including four post-season contests, said the Bears.

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Utah State in 2014, Scales has been a long-time leader for Chicago’s special teams’ unit. He has logged 14 special teams’ tackles (nine solo) across his career and leads all active Bears players in games played with the team (120).

Prior to the trade, the Bears said Ryan Bates spent five seasons with the Bills, appeared in 73 games with 19 starts. He also played in nine post-season games with four starts. Bates was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 and was traded to the Bills during training camp.

The 6’4, 302-pounder played for three seasons at Penn State, appearing in 37 games and starting 34 at various positions along the offensive line. Bates started all 14 games as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and earned Freshman All-American Honor, the Bears added.

Sports Editor at Chicago Crusader Newspaper | + posts

Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.

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