Chicago Bears release veteran guard Cody Whitehair, safety Eddie Jackson

Whitehair has played in 124 Bears games since 2016

Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson celebrates an interception in the first half against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023.

The Bears released veteran guard Cody Whitehair and veteran safety Eddie Jackson on Thursday, the team announced.

Both are former Pro Bowl players who have been team captains in Chicago. They were two of the longest-tenured members of the team. Cutting Whitehair and Jackson will save the Bears more than $21 million in salary cap space for the 2024 season.

Jackson was a team captain last season and a vocal leader for the defense. Injuries have hampered his past two seasons, however. Jackson’s 2022 season ended five games early because of a foot injury. The injury continued to nag him into 2023, and he missed another five games.

Jackson has appeared in and started 100 games for the Bears since 2017. The team selected him with a fourth-round draft pick in 2017. His best season came in 2018, when he totaled six interceptions, two forced fumbles and 15 passes defended and scored two touchdowns. Jackson earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2018.

Jackson was set to make $18 million in 2024, which would’ve made him one of the highest-paid players on the team. Cutting him will save $12.5 million of that total in salary cap space.

Chicago Bears offensive lineman Cody Whitehair lines up during the first half against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, in Atlanta.

Whitehair is a former Pro Bowler who played guard and center during his Bears career. The Bears drafted Whitehair with a second-round pick (56th overall) in 2016. Since then, he has appeared in 124 games, making 118 starts for the Bears.

Releasing Whitehair is a move that was widely expected this offseason. Whitehair began the 2023 season in the starting lineup, but was eventually benched midway through the year. Head coach Matt Eberflus tried to convert Whitehair back to the center position, where he began his career, but the Bears ultimately decided to stick with Lucas Patrick at center. That pushed Whitehair to a reserve role.

Whitehair was set to make $13 million during the 2024 season. Cutting him will allow the Bears to save $9 million of that total against the salary cap. If the Bears didn’t see a starting spot for Whitehair in 2024, they were not likely to pay him that much money to be a backup.

Whitehair and Jackson will become free agents immediately.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.