The Bears made their first big decision for 2023 this week when they announced a contract extension for Equanimeous St. Brown. It will be a one-year deal for St. Brown, and according to Ian Rapoport he’ll earn $1.25 million.
“I just talked to my agent probably like two weeks ago and we talked about things and we thought it would be the best decision for me to stay here,” St. Brown said. “I think we’re building on something here and I feel like the coaching staff and the organization likes me. I like it here, I’m happy here, so I want to stay here.”
St. Brown was one of the first new players Ryan Poles brought onboard when free agency opened last March. Part of the allure was his familiarity with Luke Getsy’s offense from their time together in Green Bay. The organization also wanted to see what St. Brown could do with more opportunities on offense, instead of playing behind players like Davante Adams, Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. That opportunity for St. Brown led to 20 catches for 320 yards and one touchdown, plus six rushes for 54 yards in 15 games played so far. On the surface it’s not the type of production that turns heads and has GMs rushing to re-sign a guy. But it was a career high for St. Brown in terms of yards per scrimmage, and his 16 yards per reception currently ranks sixth best in the league.
How a player performs on Sunday is the bottom line in any evaluation, but the Bears really want St. Brown back because of the man he is every day.
“We always talk about, does he love football and exhibit that every single day in every play?” said Matt Eberflus. “EQ does that. He shows up to work every day and he works. When you work on the practice field like him, those are the kinds of guys we wanna keep around.”
Coaches praise his football IQ and his reliability on the field, too.
“He’s where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be there,” said wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert. “You look at the tape, a lot of the times he’s running routes he’s open. They may not get him the ball, but he’s still open and he’s doing it how we want it done.”
His knowledge of the offense allows Tolbert to lean on St. Brown as a second coach of sorts when needed.
“He knows all the positions,” Tolbert said. “He’s beneficial for the team because he helps other guys. I may be talking to somebody about something over here, EQ’s over there talking to somebody about something.
“We’re very fortunate to have him back and I’m glad he’s gonna be with the Bears.”
Eberflus also looks at the Bears’ gaudy rushing numbers and points to St. Brown’s contributions in that phase of the game. All year the team has harped on the importance of wide receivers blocking downfield, and Eberflus praised his ability to execute on crackbacks, inside blocks and second effort blocks farther down the field.
Fans may roll their eyes when they see St. Brown will return for another season, but the Bears aren’t paying him to be a top contributor. His one-year, $1.25 million deal leaves room for the team to bring in bigger names. If St. Brown can build upon his career highs this year, continue to help bring along new WRs in the offense and continue to make contributions in the run game as a WR4 or WR5, it’s a contract that could work out well for the Bears. If St. Brown is called upon to be a WR2 like he was at times this year, that’s a different story.
No matter where he ends up on the depth chart next year, St. Brown believes the Bears’ league-worst passing game will be better next year.
“This is our first time together as a team, a lot of new players, a lot of new coaches,” St. Brown said. “I think we have something to build off. Our run game has been good, our pass game has struggled a little bit, but I think as the season has gone on it’s gotten better. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think we’ll be ready for next year.”
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