Vikings’ Rivals Say Goodbye to a Pair of Starters

NFL: Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
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The Chicago Bears were already set up nicely for the 2024 offseason with a boatload of salary cap space, but now, that number has climbed even higher.

On Thursday afternoon, the Vikings’ rivals made the decision to say goodbye to a pair of veteran starters from their 2023 roster: S Eddie Jackson and LG Cody Whitehair. The move adds an additional $32 million in salary cap space and boosts their available money all the way to just under $67 million, the third-highest total in the league.

Vikings’ Rivals Say Goodbye to a Pair of Starters

Oct 30, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson (4) intercepts a pass thrown by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (not pictured) during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the move, tweeting, “The #Bears have released veterans S Eddie Jackson and OL Cody Whitehair, who had combined salary cap numbers of roughly $32M. Even more cap space for Chicago.”

Jackson has been a starter at safety for the Bears ever since he was drafted by the team back in 2017. He has played a grand total of 100 regular season games in Chicago, all of them being starts. He totaled 459 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks, 44 passes defended, 15 interceptions, and 10 forced fumbles over the course of his seven seasons with the Bears.

Meanwhile, Whitehair was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he has played 124 games in a Bears uniform, including 118 starts. Whitehair is a very versatile offensive lineman. While he has primarily started at the left guard and center positions over his NFL career, he also has seen 208 snaps at the right guard position.

Whitehair also spent two collegiate seasons playing left tackle for the Kansas State Wildcats, but seeing as he stands at just 6’3″, it was a logical decision for him to move to the interior offensive line in the NFL.

Vikings Rivals
Nov 9, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears offensive lineman Cody Whitehair (65) blocks against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Not only do these moves free up more cap space for the Bears in 2024, but they also provide additional intriguing free agency options for the Vikings to consider this offseason.

Particularly in the case of Whitehair, he has been one of the better interior offensive linemen throughout his NFL career. He was a Pro Bowler back in 2018 and ranked among PFF’s top-50 graded interior o-linemen (min. 600 snaps) in each of his first seven seasons from 2016-2022.

Unfortunately, 2023 saw Whitehair struggle as he was flip-flopped all across the interior of Chicago’s offensive line throughout the season, finishing with a putrid PFF grade of 45.0. Still, at only 31 years old, Whitehair reasonably should have a few years of impactful football in front of him as long as he can stay healthy.

Sep 25, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears offensive lineman Cody Whitehair (65) blocks against the Houston Texans at Soldier Field. Chicago defeated Houston 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Currently, the Vikings do not have a starting left guard in place for the 2024 season as Dalton Risner is set to enter free agency. Surprisingly, Risner is projected by some to receive a rather lucrative contract this offseason, which could impact Minnesota’s ability to retain him.

Whitehair likely won’t come all that cheap, either, but with his struggles in 2023, his market may have taken a hit over the course of the past year. Perhaps the Vikings can jump on an opportunity and solidify that guard spot for another season.

Regardless, the Vikings need more faces across their interior o-line right now and should look to add a couple players in free agency.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, and Over the Cap.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.