Bears GM Ryan Pace said at the start of free agency the Bears would look to spread out their resources when looking the current free agent pool to improve their team. Well he has done that and then some though his focus seems predominantly on one side of the ball at the moment. Late yesterday afternoon Pace got Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman to agree to a 3 year contract.
The 29-year-old Freeman started all 57 games he played in the past four seasons with Indianapolis after spending three years with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Since entering the NFL in 2012, he is tied for sixth in tackles. He led the Colts in defensive tackles in 2012 and `13 and ranked second in 2014 and `15. Pairing Freeman with the newly signed Danny Trevathan and the Bears could have the top defense in the division right now and we have not even gotten to the draft yet. Late Saturday night Pace also signed some of his own free agents bring back defensive tackle Mitch Unrein on a 2 year deal and WR/KR Marc Mariani on a 1-year deal and brought back CB Tracy Porter on a 3 year deal.
Unrein appeared in 16 games last season — two for San Diego and 14 for Chicago — and finished with 33 tackles. He played for Denver from 2011 to 2014.
Mariani is returning for his third season with the Bears. He had 22 receptions for 300 yards, 29 punt returns for 192 yards and 16 kickoff returns for 418 yards last year. Bringing back Mariani shows the Bears waning faith in WR Eddie Royal to stay healthy. Royal has always had trouble staying on the field and last year he only played in 9 games, and late in the year Jay Cutler and Mariani showed a good connection and virtually assumed Royal’s role while he was out of the lineup. Prior to last season Mariani had not caught a pass in a game since 2011.
Porter shaked off some early season injuries to have 13 starts last season, Porter recorded a team-high 22 pass break-ups. He also recorded 1 interception.
Enter Sunday night and Pace still is not done. Pace tonight signed massive defensive lineman of the Patriots Akiem Hicks to a 2-year deal. Despite reports that Hicks was going to the division rival Detroit Lions, Hicks decided to join the Bears late Sunday night.
The New Orleans Saints made Hicks a third-round pick out of the University of Regina in 2012, but after parts of four seasons with the team, he was traded to the Pats three games in to the 2015 campaign for tight end Michael Hoomanawanui.
Hicks went on to register 21 tackles and three sacks in 13 games for the Patriots as part of a highly effective defensive line rotation. The Bears defense looks like it could have as many as 7 new starters this season as we head into the draft next month.