Chicago Bears sign fifth-round 2024 NFL Draft pick Austin Booker to his rookie contract

The Chicago Bears have signed the third member of the five-player 2024 NFL Draft Class.

Kansas pass rusher and fifth round pick Austin Booker has signed his rookie contract with the Bears, the team announced Thursday.

Booker's contract is a four-year deal, according to the Chicago Bears team website.

Booker was the 144th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft last month. The Bears traded with the Buffalo Bills to get back into the draft to select Booker.

Coincidentally, the Bears traded the 144th pick to the Buffalo Bills in February for offensive lineman Ryan Bates. They sent a fourth round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft to Buffalo.

Now, only Caleb Willams and Rome Odunze remain as unsigned rookies in the 2024 NFL Draft class.

There was a belief that Booker, had he stayed in college for another season, would have been a Day 2 selection, possibly even a first-round pick.

At Bears' rookie mini camp last weekend, Booker used his physical traits to show his potential.

"It's been a great opportunity, I just continue to learn," Booker said.

Booker said he wants to work on his get off speed and his pad level before the pads go on for real.

What does help Booker is that he already has a connection to the NFL. A Pro Bowl connection, too.

His trainer is Javon Gopie, who the same trainer who worked with Las Vegas Raiders edge rusher Maxx Crosby. He connected Booker with the three-time Pro Bowl edge rusher.

"He just connected us," Booker said. "He called me after I got drafted, just letting me know I can reach out whenever I have a question or any type of thing like that because he obviously has a great process how he does things because he’s able to compete at a high level. Having that resource has just been great."

Bears defensive coordinator Eric Washington talked about Booker's potential, too.

He said the bench marks for Booker getting early playing time starts with learning the system and the scheme, but he wants to see consistency, too.

"When he has to physically go against one of our offensive linemen or anybody that we have out there, I want to see him win," Washington said. "I want to see his confidence start to grow and that’s part of my responsibility to make sure that he understands that process, and that I’m giving him the right feedback, if there’s one great thing, he’s going to know about that great thing so we can multiply that."

Booker understands he's seen as a "raw" prospect, but the Bears have had success with rookie defensive ends before. Mark Anderson had 12 sacks as a rookie in 2006 behind Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye for the Bears team that went to Super Bowl XLI.

In the same vein, Booker can contribute behind the likes of Montez Sweat, Demarcus Walker and Austin Billings.

"Just trying to be the best defensive end I can be," Booker said.