30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (2024)

30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (1)

Alyssa Barbieri and Brendan Sugrue

July 2, 2024 10:35 am CT

The Chicago Bears are gearing up for the 2024 NFL season, which features plenty of new and returning faces within the organization. There are a number of players, coaches and front office members that are crucial to the team’s success this season.

Every day from now until the start of training camp, we’re counting down our 30 Most Important Bears for the 2024 season. We’ll recap their 2023 season, look ahead to 2024 and tackle the biggest question facing them this year.

Up next is defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who will be key in the success of Chicago’s pass rush this season.

Background

30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (2)

LAKE FOREST, ILLINOIS – JUNE 07: DeMarcus Walker #95 of the Chicago Bears stretches during OTA’s at Halas Hall on June 07, 2023 in Lake Forest, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775981496 ORIG FILE ID: 1496731379

Position:Defensive end

Age:29

Experience:8th season

2024 cap hit:$8.66 million

2023 recap

30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (3)

Nov 9, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker (95) celebrates a defensive play against the Carolina Panthers during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 30 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 16 QB hits (17 games, 12 starts)

Walker was the team’s first big acquisition last offseason, signing a three-year, $21 million deal coming off a career year with the Titans. Following a seven-sack season, Walker failed to replicate his success with Chicago, totaling just 3.5 sacks. He played all 17 games in 2023, including 12 starts, playing on 67 percent of defensive snaps. While Walker didn’t match his career-best sack total from last year, he proved to be a versatile defensive lineman who could line up both outside and inside, and he was particularly good against the run for Chicago. Walker totaled 30 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and 16 QB hits.

2024 outlook

30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (4)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – DECEMBER 24: DeMarcus Walker #95 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a tackle during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field on December 24, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The Bears improved their pass rush with the acquisition of Montez Sweat last season, but there are still questions outside of him. Walker is penciled in as the starter opposite Sweat heading into the 2024 season, but he needs to find more success off the edge after a down season. Still, Walker provides versatility along the defensive line and will likely be used in multiple ways again this season. Chicago also has some other options on the roster, including veteran addition Jacob Martin and fifth-round rookie Austin Booker. Not to mention, there’s still a possibility they could re-sign Yannick Ngakoue, who is healthy after suffering a season-ending ankle injury last year. That could allow Walker to be used less (after playing 66.6% of snaps in 2023) in order to get more production, be it off the edge or the interior.

Big question: Will Walker find more production in 2024?

30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (5)

TAMPA, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 17: DeMarcus Walker #95 of the Chicago Bears looks on during the third quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775992278 ORIG FILE ID: 1687019721

Walker will no doubt play a significant role along the Bears defensive line this season, where he’ll likely be utilized in multiple ways. But the team is looking for more production after he went from 7.0 to 3.5 sacks. Walker will get the first crack at starting opposite Sweat, assuming Chicago doesn’t re-sign Yannick Ngakoue or another veteran. Last season, Walker played 66.6% of defensive snaps, which was significantly higher than his previous career highs of 51.6% and 36.5%. Assuming Chicago doesn’t bring in a veteran, will Walker rise to the occasion in a primary starting role? For what it’s worth, Walker concluded last season on a high note with 2.0 sacks and four tackles-for-loss and seven QB hits in place of an injured Ngakoue in the final four games. But can Walker replicate that success during an entire 17-game season?

30 Most Important Bears of 2024

30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (6)

30. QB Tyson Bagent29. RB Khalil Herbert28. RB Roschon Johnson27. P Tory Taylor
26. DT Zacch Pickens25. WR Velus Jones Jr.24. K Cairo Santos23. S Jaquan Brisker
22. DE DeMarcus Walker21. TBA20. TBA19. TBA
18. TBA17. TBA16.TBA15. TBA
14. TBA13. TBA12. TBA11. TBA
10. TBA9. TBA8. TBA7. TBA
6. TBA5.TBA4. TBA3. TBA
2. TBA1. TBA

More 2024 season

30 Most Important Bears of 2024: No. 22 DeMarcus Walker (2024)
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