Bears sign Whitehair to 5-year extension through 2024

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky wore a smile Sunday like he just received a big contract extension.

In a way, it was an investment by the Bears in their quarterback. The Bears signed one of Trubisky’s protectors, left guard Cody Whitehair, to a five-year contract extension through 2024. ESPN reported that it was worth $52.5 million and includes $27.5 million guaranteed. Whitehair was in the last season of his four-year rookie contract.

“He always puts the team first,” Trubisky said. “In here early; last guy to leave. Just a selfless player and does his job on the field. He definitely deserves everything he has gotten.

“I feel like I just got paid a little bit too. (The team’s) got to take care of my guys up front, and they certainly are.”

The Bears did not release terms of the agreement beyond its length.

“It’s definitely important, but it’s important it got done now so we can just focus on this week and beating Green Bay,” Whitehair said.

The Bears and Packers open the 100th NFL season Thursday night at Soldier Field.

Whitehair’s signing means the Bears have their five starting offensive linemen under contract through at least 2020.

“That stability of that line, you ask a quarterback what it means to have those guys in front of you who are consistent,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said. “I mean, you probably saw … the t-shirt Mitch was wearing the other day before the game? He had his five offensive linemen on his t-shirt.

“That’s pretty cool. There aren’t moving parts there. Those are all the same guy. So, we like that.”

Whitehair anticipated this would happen after seeing the way the Bears went about signing the other offensive linemen to extensions in recent years.

“I had full belief that they wanted me here and to keep me here,” Whitehair said. “I was just focused on playing and getting better.

“Obviously, with the position switch I had some dust to knock off so that’s what I was focused on.”

Whitehair moved to left guard this season from center after making the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year. Second-year guard James Daniels became the center.

It was only a small move for Whitehair because he has played some at guard in past seasons.

The Bears’ offensive line last year allowed 33 sacks, tied for eighth fewest in the league, and were 11th in rushing (1,938 yards).

During preseason, the line and the rest of the starting offense had virtually no playing time. Whitehair said practice was enough considering they were facing the league’s No. 1 scoring defense from last year on a daily basis.

“I think just going against our defense every day, they play at a high level and do a lot,” Nagy said. “Going against them every day and as physical as they are just prepares us really well.”

NOTES

Kicker Eddy Pineiro won the kicking battle over Elliott Fry and no other kicker has been brought in by the Bears for now. He’ll kick against the Packers. “I mean, it’s a lot of weight lifted off my shoulders,” Pineiro said. “I’m excited to be the guy. This organization believes in me and has given me a shot to be where I’m at.” On Sunday prior to practice at Halas Hall, Pineiro went to Soldier Field with long snapper Patrick Scales and holder/punter Patrick O’Donnell to practice. … The Bears brought back 10 players who had been cut Saturday to form a practice squad. Offensive lineman Alex Bars, quarterback Tyler Bray, defensive back Stephen Denmark, linebacker Jonathan Harris, tight end Jesper Horsted, wide receiver Thomas Ives, defensive back Michael Joseph, offensive lineman Sam Mustipher, running back Ryan Nall and linebacker James Vaughters formed the practice squad.

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