Shaw Local’s 2023 Chicago Bears report card: Safety

Jaquan Brisker, Eddie Jackson led the way at safety in 2023

Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker (9) celebrates after intercepting a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

The Bears used one of their two second-round picks in the 2022 draft on safety Jaquan Brisker, and the move seemed to have been a good one. Brisker played at a high level during his rookie season, and the Bears had high expectations for him in 2023.

Veteran safety Eddie Jackson missed the final five games of 2022, but the Bears expected him to be back to full health for 2023.

Unfortunately, injuries kept Jackson off the field for long stretches. The duo played well together when both were on the field, but Jackson missed five more games in 2023. The Bears already have decided to move on from Jackson. The team announced it was releasing him Thursday.

Here’s a look back at what went well and what didn’t for the Bears at the safety position.


Brisker continued where he left off with his big, physical style of play from the safety position. He has never been afraid to play close to the line of scrimmage and be involved in the run game or as a blitzer. He didn’t have quite as many sacks as he did during his rookie season (when he led the team with four). He finished with one sack and three tackles for loss in 2023. He also had one interception, nine passes defended, forced two fumbles and recovered one fumble. Brisker’s 105 combined tackles ranked third on the team behind linebackers TJ Edwards and Tremaine Edmunds.

Jackson ended the year strong, but only after missing more than a month with a foot injury. He totaled one interception and five passes defended, while playing the free safety role.

Second-year pro Elijah Hicks played well in his six starts in place of Jackson. Hicks totaled 35 tackles with one pass defended.


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

Jackson re-injured his foot during a Week 2 contest in Tampa. He missed the majority of that loss against the Bucs, then sat out the next three weeks. He tried to come back in Week 6, but his foot wasn’t ready yet. He played only 14 snaps in a Week 6 loss to the Vikings. Jackson then missed the next two games before making a full return in Week 9.

When he was on the field, the takeaways that Jackson created in 2022 just weren’t coming in 2023. He had only one interception in 12 games after totaling four in 12 games the year prior.

Brisker missed two games with a concussion but was otherwise available all season.

Defining moments

1. 17 tackles: In a Week 14 win over the Detroit Lions, Brisker recorded 17 combined tackles. For a safety, that number was remarkable. It was a career high for Brisker and it marked the highest tackle total in a single game for a Bears defensive back since at least 1970.

2. Skol chant: On his only interception of the season, during a Week 12 matchup against the Vikings, Brisker celebrated in the end zone by doing the Vikings’ signature “Skol” clap back at the fans. The Bears won that game on a late game-winning field goal.

3. Cleveland: Following a gut-wrenching loss to the Browns in December, a loss that tanked the Bears’ playoff hopes, Jackson aired his frustration with members of the media in the visiting locker room.

“We had our destiny in our hands,” Jackson said.

The Bears new it would be a defensive game against a tough Browns defense, and they held a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter – only to watch it disappear. For Jackson, that was one of the last relevant games he played in as a member of the Bears.

Contract status

Jackson had one more year on his contract before the team cut him Thursday. Brisker and Hicks have two years remaining on their rookie contracts. Quindell Johnson has two years remaining on his contract. Adrian Colbert and Douglas Coleman III signed futures contract.

Shaw Local grade: B-

Brisker had a nice season. Jackson missed a lot of time and wasn’t always productive when he was on the field.


Jackson would’ve been owed $18 million next season if the Bears hadn’t cut him. Releasing him saved $12.5 million against the cap. Given Jackson’s injury history over the past two seasons, it makes sense to move on from him. He’s a leader in the locker room, but his production is not worth what the Bears are currently paying him.

The Bears probably will look to reallocate some of that money for a veteran safety – albeit a cheaper one. This defense already has a lot of young players in the secondary. Adding a veteran feels like the better way to go at free safety.

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.