The Bears spent the last two seasons looking for a sidekick in the secondary for Eddie Jackson.
They found two and both outplayed Jackson, at least according to independent statistical analysis.
It makes you wonder if they gave the $58.4 million deal to the right person but neither Tashaun Gipson in 2020 nor Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in 2019 received much compensation for their efforts.
The Bears have to decide whether Gipson should return for 2021 and it would seem money will dictate this, which means unlikely.
Gipson played for only $1.05 million last year and someone looking for short-term safety help with more cap space available than the Bears would likely see his game film and determine he is worth adding.
"You can really feel his veteran presence in the defensive backfield," Bears safety coach Sean Desai said late in the season. "He's a quiet guy but you can feel his experience, you can feel his poise out on the field in the communication, and each week he's getting more and more comfortable within the defense."
Gipson had a 96.3 passer rating against when targeted, and allowed 63.6% completions when targeted according to Sportradar, the NFL's official stat partner. He gave up three touchdowns to go with two interceptions.
Pro Football Focus gave Gipson a 67.6 grade on the year, 71.3 against the run and 64.7 against the pass.
He was still in there fighting hard at the end of the playoff game as the Bears fell too far behind to catch up, and made a hit on Drew Brees, resulting in a turnover.
Those PFF grades represented an improvement over what he'd done in Houston the previous season, when he was at 59.5 overall and 64.5 in pass defense.
It's rather embarrassing for Jackson when his numbers are stacked up this year to Gipson's. Gipson had seven pass defenses and Jackson only five. Jackson made no interceptions and his PFF grade was a career-low 59.8. Jackson was over 70 in PFF grade only once in his career, the specatcular 2018 season.
So it's apparent Gipson is a player they would definitely be able to use for a second year in their defense, but a team already in the negative in cap space may need to look to a draft pick as a starter.
They can't even look to their own backups in this case. Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson are both slated for free agency again as they both played on one-year deals like Gipson. Both had their first career interceptions in 2020, giving them both one more interception than Jackson.