It might not be the contract announcement most figured would be next, but the Chicago Bears got a deal done Thursday.
Nose tackle Andrew Billings signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract extension, meaning the run stuffer will be with the organization through the 2025 season.
“We’re extremely excited to be able to keep Andrew in Chicago,” general manager Ryan Poles said in a statement. “The professionalism, dependability and toughness he brings to our defense exhibit the type of player we want in our organization.”
Poles indicated confidence Wednesday in his ability to sign newly acquired defensive end Montez Sweat to an extension, and he also spoke at length about the negotiating process with cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Those remain front-burner issues, but re-upping with Billings ensures a big part of this season’s defensive improvement will remain in place.
Billings’ presence has been one key reason coach Matt Eberflus’ defense has improved dramatically against the run. The Bears ranked 31st in the league a year ago, when they surrendered a franchise-record 2,674 rushing yards (157.3 per game). They enter Week 9 ranked third versus the run, allowing only 78.8 yards per game.
The Bears signed Billings to a one-year, $2.75 million contract in free agency, and he said a few weeks ago that he was comfortable with the situation and could see himself staying with the Bears. The team approached him about starting talks on an extension a few weeks back, and the deal was finalized Wednesday and signed after meetings Thursday morning.
“I came here for a reason,” Billings, 28, said. “I was happy with the first deal. It was a surprise and just all good things.”
Billings will be able to suit up for the same team in consecutive seasons for the first time since his first four years in the league with the Cincinnati Bengals (2016-19).
He signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2020 but opted out because of COVID-19. The Browns cut him loose in 2021, and he hopped around the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs practice squads before playing for the Las Vegas Raiders last season.
“It’s really special,” he said. “It’s Year 8 for me. Just being able to settle down, it’s something I’ve been working for my whole career.”