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Bears release former Pro Bowlers Eddie Jackson, Cody Whitehair

An offseason of change is underway for the Chicago Bears, who parted ways with two of their longest-tenured players on Thursday.

Former Pro Bowlers Eddie Jackson and Cody Whitehair, Chicago draft picks with a combined 15 seasons of service in the Windy City, were released, the team announced.

The departures of Whitehair, a starting offensive lineman for the past eight seasons, and Jackson, a starting safety over the last seven years, will bestow the Bears with roughly $21.6 million in salary cap savings. Per Over the Cap, Chicago is now poised to enter the 2024 offseason with $66.9 million in cap space, third-most in the NFL.

This stands as the first big move for general manager Ryan Poles in 2024, but it's hardly expected to be the last as quarterback Justin Fields' future in Chicago remains uncertain and Pro Bowl cornerback Jaylon Johnson is an impending big-money free agent.

Releasing Whitehair and Jackson isn't all that surprising, but it is a massive sign of change.

Long snapper Patrick Scales, who joined the team in 2015, was the only Bears player with the team longer than Whitehair, a 2016 second-rounder, or Jackson, a 2017 fourth-rounder.

Whitehair, 31, was a 2018 Pro Bowler who started 118 games in his Bears tenure. Though he played all 17 games last year, he started just 11 and the versatile interior lineman drew a 45.0 overall grade from PFF.

The 30-year-old Jackson was regarded as one of the NFL's top safeties for a time, as evidenced by his 2018 All-Pro selection, which accompanied one of his two Pro Bowl nods. However, he missed 10 games over the past two campaigns battling a foot injury.

The Bears will no doubt get younger and have freed up even more cap space as they bid adieu to two starting lineup standards. As for Jackson and Whitehair, they'll hit free agency running hoping to add veteran presence to their next suitors.

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