The NFL’s new league year began March 16, opening the door for free agents to sign with new teams or reach agreements to stay with their current organizations.
As Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles prepares to rework the roster in his second month on the job, the Tribune will track all of the Bears arrivals and departures and provide insight into what they mean.
The Bears agreed to a two-year deal with quarterback Trevor Siemian, his agent tweeted.
What it means: The former Northwestern quarterback joins the Bears to back up Justin Fields after a season with the New Orleans Saints in which he started four games and completed 108 of 188 passes for 1,154 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. Siemian, 30, was a Denver Broncos seventh-round draft pick in 2015 and started 24 games over three seasons, completing 59.3% of his passes for 5,686 yards, 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. The Bears will be Siemian’s fifth team after spending time with the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Tennessee Titans and Saints.
It’s unclear what the moves means for Nick Foles, who remains on the Bears roster with a year left on his contract. Foles was the third-string quarterback in 2021 behind Fields and Andy Dalton, who is a free agent. The Bears also have quarterback Ryan Willis on their roster.
Former Bears defenders Xavier Crawford and Joel Iyiegbuniwe are joining former Bears coaches elsewhere, their new teams announced.
What it means: Crawford, a cornerback, spent the last two seasons with the Bears, playing in 16 games with two starts and 21 tackles. He is signing a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars to rejoin former Bears defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend.
Meanwhile, linebacker Iyiegbuniwe, who primarily made his mark on special teams over 58 games in four seasons with the Bears, is joining former defensive coordinator Sean Desai with the Seattle Seahawks. Iyiegbuniwe, a fourth-round pick in 2018, is signing a one-year deal.
The Bears announced they signed offensive lineman Dakota Dozier to a one-year deal.
What it means: Dozier has played in 76 games over seven seasons with the New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings with 27 starts. The 6-foot-4, 312-pound guard was a fourth-round pick in 2014. He started a career-high 16 games at left guard for the Vikings in 2020 but didn’t play any offensive snaps for them in 2021. He spent most of last season on the practice squad and played in six games on special teams. He was hospitalized with COVID-19 in November.
Dozier is GM Ryan Poles’ second free-agent offensive line signing this offseason, along with Lucas Patrick, who said he expects to play center this season.
Safety Deon Bush signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, ESPN reported.
What it means: Bush, a 2016 fourth-round draft pick by the Bears, played in 79 regular-season games over six seasons with 12 starts. He had the best numbers of his career in 2021 when given a bigger opportunity to play on defense, logging 377 snaps. Bush had two interceptions, five passes defended and 40 tackles last season. He was also a big contributor on special teams throughout his career.
The Bears have two returning safeties on their roster, starter Eddie Jackson and recently re-signed DeAndre Houston-Carson.
The Bears signed fullback Khari Blasingame to a one-year contract.
What it means: Blasingame, 25, played in 32 games over three seasons with the Tennessee Titans. The 6-foot, 233-pound fullback was primarily a run blocker for Titans running back Derrick Henry, but he also had 10 catches for 97 yards. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent out of Vanderbilt in 2019 before the Titans took him off the Vikings practice squad. After injuries limited Blasingame to 11 games in 2021, the Titans didn’t tender the restricted free agent this offseason.
The Bears are re-signing safety and special teams ace DeAndre Houston-Carson on a one-year, $1.77 million deal.
What it means: Houston-Carson has been the most important player on special teams the last several seasons and his value only increased when given a chance to play more on defense in 2021.
Houston-Carson, playing a variety of roles in the secondary, finished tied for sixth on the defense in tackles (47) and the Bears rewarded him Saturday, agreeing to terms on a one-year, $1.77 million contract that is fully guaranteed, a source said.
The 28-year-old was tied for sixth in tackles despite missing the final four games after suffering a broken arm. He had an interception and scored on a fumble recovery on special teams. He played 419 snaps on defense after having 91 in 2020 and a total of 164 in his first five seasons combined. An expanded role on defense limited his time somewhat on special teams but he still served as the pseudo-captain of the punt team.
It remains to be seen how coach Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams envision Houston-Carson fitting into their scheme. Houston-Carson, a sixth-round pick in 2016, has a relationship with Williams as both played at William & Mary.
Special teams coordinator Richard Hightower knows Houston-Carson from his previous stint with the Bears, so the new coaching staff has a pretty good idea of what he can accomplish.
Houston-Carson is the second free agent from last season’s team the club has committed to re-sign following long snapper Patrick Scales.
After the Bears announced they would not be signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, the team finalized a pair of two-year contract agreements with Al-Quadin Muhammad and Justin Jones.
What it means: Shortly after the Bears announced they would not be signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi because he failed his physical, the news of a deal with Jones came out. A few hours later, the Bears also finalized a two-year contract with Al-Quadin Muhammad.
Muhammad, a defensive tackle with the ability to disrupt the passer, has plenty of familiarity with new Bears coach Matt Eberflus, having spent the last four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. He will turn 27 later this month and is coming off a breakout 2021 season in which he had six sacks under Eberflus’ watch. ESPN reported Muhammad’s contract is for two years and $10 million.
Jones, a third-round pick in 2018, started 35 games and played in 51 over four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. He had 118 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, 4½ sacks and 13 quarterback hits in that span. His best season came in 2021 when he had three sacks, five quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries in 11 games. The 6-foot-3, 309-pound defensive tackle missed five games early in the season with a calf injury.
Ogunjobi had foot surgery in January and wasn’t medically cleared by the Bears to sign his $40.5 million contract.
The Bears have reached agreements on a pair of one-year deals with receivers Byron Pringle and former Green Bay Packer Equanimeous St. Brown.
What it means: This is hardly Thursday’s night’s biggest headline involving a former Packers receiver with Davante Adams being traded to the Las Vegas Raiders. That news sent a jolt across the league and undoubtedly leaves four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers scratching his head. Still, the new deals with Pringle and St. Brown represent Ryan Poles’ first significant moves at receiver in what figures to be a series of them through free agency and the draft. The Bears entered the week with significant work to do to add talent and depth to the receiving corps behind Darnell Mooney. Pringle and St. Brown will arrive on one-year contracts, which will will put them in the kind of “prove it” situation Poles likes with free-agent acquisitions.
Pringle, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent four years ago, had a breakout season in 2021 with 42 catches, 568 yards and five touchdowns in the Kansas City Chiefs’ high-powered passing attack. Poles spent the last 13 seasons with the Chiefs, so he certainly has enough familiarity with Pringle to make an educated assessment of where his career is at. Pringle should add an element of speed to the Bears offense and is in line to have a significant role in the passing game.
St. Brown, who entered the league as a sixth-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2018, has 37 career catches for 543 yards and one touchdown in the three seasons. He missed all of 2019 with an ankle injury. St. Brown had his best season last year with 21 receptions for 328 yards.
Poles will continue working to fortify the receiver room through the latter waves of free agency. He is also quite likely to dip into a deep and talented draft class next month. The Bears have a pair of second-round picks at Nos. 39 and 48 overall and another in the third round at No. 71.
As things stand, it would be a surprise if Poles didn’t use one of those selections on another pass catcher for young quarterback Justin Fields. Still, St. Brown will be given an opportunity to carve out a role and has familiarity with Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy from their three years together in Green Bay. St. Brown is the second former Packer to reunite with Getsy and sign with the Bears this week, joining offensive lineman Lucas Patrick.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams.
What it means: Robinson’s deal is worth $46.5 million, with $30.7 million fully guaranteed, NFL Network reported. He moves on from Chicago after four seasons with the Bears, in which he had 293 catches for 3,561 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Robinson cashed in on a big deal despite a down 2021 season in which he had a career-low 38 catches for 410 yards and a touchdown while playing on the franchise tag. He was limited to 12 games because of injury and COVID-19.
After years of playing on mediocre teams with quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles, Andy Dalton and Justin Fields in his rookie season, Robinson now joins the defending Super Bowl champions and veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. Robinson, 28, played his first four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars before joining the Bears and then-new coach Matt Nagy on a three-year, $42 million contract in 2018.
The Green Bay Packers are signing punter Pat O’Donnell, ESPN reported.
What it means: The Bears are in the market for a new punter after O’Donnell joined the Packers on a two-year, $4 million contract with $1.6 million guaranteed, according to ESPN. He was the Bears punter since 2014, averaging 45.1 yards per punt over his eight seasons. He also was the holder for kicker Cairo Santos, who set a franchise record for consecutive field goals made from 2020-21.
The Bears released linebacker Danny Trevathan.
What it means: The Bears parted with Trevathan, who turns 32 this month, after six seasons. Trevathan signed with the Bears in 2016 after four seasons with the Denver Broncos and totaled 459 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 21 passes defended, three interceptions, four forced fumbles, 16 quarterback hits and seven sacks. But he was limited in two of his final three seasons, missing seven games in 2019 with an elbow injury and playing in only five games in 2021 because of knee issues. Former Bears GM Ryan Pace signed Trevathan to a three-year, $21.75 million contract extension in 2020.
At the start of the new league year, the Bears also made official the Khalil Mack trade to the Los Angeles Chargers and the previously reported release of running back Tarik Cohen.
And the Bears announced the previously reported signings of defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a three-year deal, linebacker Nicholas Morrow to a one-year deal and interior offensive lineman Lucas Patrick to a two-year deal.
Cornerback Artie Burns signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks, ESPN reported.
What it means: Burns rejoins former Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai in Seattle. After four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Burns spent two years with the Bears, but a knee injury kept him out in 2020. He played in 11 games, starting six, in 2021, with 23 tackles and six passes defended.
Defensive lineman Bilal Nichols is headed to Las Vegas, agreeing to a new contract with the Raiders.
What it means: As the Bears defense continues a major overhaul, another former starter is headed elsewhere. NFL Network reports Nichols’ new two-year contract with the Raiders includes $9 million guaranteed and could be worth up to $11 million, a hefty reward for a player who invested himself in becoming a reliable starter.
Nichols qualifies as one of former general manager Ryan Pace’s success stories. He was a fifth-round pick (No. 145 overall) out of Delaware in 2018 and turned heads quickly during a solid rookie season in which he emerged as a starter with 28 total tackles, three sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Driven and hard working, Nichols blossomed during his first three seasons under the guidance of defensive line coach Jay Rodgers and mentor Akiem Hicks. This past season, with Chris Rumph replacing Rodgers, Nichols continued his ascent. He recorded 51 total tackles, including five for loss and three sacks while adding two fumble recoveries.
Still, of Pace’s first 27 draft selections from 2015-2018, Nichols becomes the 19th to not make it to a fifth season with the Bears, a dispiriting reality for a franchise that in recent years has had far too many swings and misses in the draft and also has been able to turn even their successful acquisitions into significant on-field team success.
Wide receiver/returner Jakeem Grant is signing a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, NFL Network reported.
What it means: Grant’s deal is worth up to $13.8 million. He made an impact as a returner for the Bears in just 11 games after arriving via trade with the Miami Dolphins midseason. He averaged 13.9 yards per punt return, including one 97-yard touchdown, and 23.5 yards per kickoff return. Grant was one of two Bears Pro Bowlers in 2021, along with Robert Quinn.
He spent the first six-plus years of his career with the Dolphins, totaling three punt return touchdowns and two kickoff return touchdowns. His career high as a receiver came in 2020 when he had 36 catches for 373 yards and a touchdown.
The Bears are signing interior offensive lineman Lucas Patrick to a two-year, $8 million contract, ESPN reported.
What it means: Patrick’s deal comes with $4 million fully guaranteed in the first year. Patrick, who will be 29 in July, has played in 73 games over five seasons with the Green Bay Packers. The 6-foot-3, 313-pound lineman started 28 games over the last two seasons, getting time at both guard positions and center in 2021. He signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent out of Duke in 2016 and spent that season on the practice squad.
Patrick joins the Bears the same day former Bears guard/center James Daniels agreed to a three-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Patrick gives the Bears versatility on the interior of the line, which also has guard Cody Whitehair and center Sam Mustipher returning. Patrick rejoins new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who coached with the Packers for seven seasons before joining new coach Matt Eberflus this offseason.
The Bears are signing former Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Nicholas Morrow, a source told the Tribune.
What it means: Morrow, who will be 27 in July, joins the Bears after five years with the Raiders. He missed the entire 2021 season after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason.
Morrow joined the Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of Division III Greenville University in 2017. He started 29 games and played in 62 over four seasons, totaling 254 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 20 passes defended, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, four sacks and 15 quarterback hits. His best season was 2020, when he had 78 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, nine passes defended, an interception, three sacks and six quarterback hits.
The Bears entered free agency with a need for linebackers with Roquan Smith the only certain returning starter, and Morrow helps address that hole.
The Bears are bringing back long snapper Patrick Scales on a one-year contract, according to a source.
What it means: Scales, 34, has been with the Bears since 2015 and has played in every game for them since the 2018 season. His contract is worth $1.27 million with $895,000 guaranteed.
Offensive lineman James Daniels is signing a three-year, $26.5 million contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL Network reported.
What it means: The Bears are in the market for a new starting guard with the departure of Daniels, a second-round pick out of Iowa in 2018.
Daniels, who will turn 25 in September, started 48 games over four seasons at guard and center. He played in only five games in 2020 before suffering a torn pectoral but returned in 2021 to start all 17 games at right guard. His departure leaves another major hole for GM Ryan Poles to fill on the offensive line, with the Bears’ plans at center and offensive tackle also in question.
The Chicago Bears are signing defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a three-year, $40.5 million contract, a source told the Tribune.
What it means: The deal will include $26.35 million guaranteed. Ogunjobi, who turns 28 in June, enters his sixth season in the league. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman was a third-round pick in 2017 by the Cleveland Browns and played in 60 games for them over four seasons. He had 14½ sacks, 37 quarterback hits, 180 tackles and 29 tackles for a loss in that span.
He played on a one-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021 and had a career-high seven sacks, 16 quarterback hits and 12 tackles for a loss in 16 regular-season games. NFL NextGen Stats tweeted Monday that Ogunjobi had 39 quarterback pressures aligned as an interior lineman in 2021, tied for sixth in the NFL with Cameron Heyward.
Ogunjobi suffered a season-ending foot injury that required surgery in the Bengals’ playoff win against the Las Vegas Raiders.
“All season my narrative has been about ‘Taking Control’ of your life, of your circumstances, and most importantly of your story,” Ogunjobi tweeted after his injury. “So what better opportunity than now to put it into practice? A path deferred is not a path denied! God doesn’t make mistakes.”
Ogunjobi is the first major addition for new Bears coach Matt Eberflus’ defense. At the NFL scouting combine earlier this month, Eberflus detailed what he looks for in a three-technique defensive tackle.
“You’ve got to be disruptive,” he said. “No. 1, you’ve got to win your one-on-one matchup, OK? And when they run zone away from you, you’ve got to be able to stay in the B gap. It’s that simple. Those are the two things we look for, and they come in all shapes and sizes. … But explosive athletic ability is the No. 1 trait.”
Along with the Ogunjobi signing, the Bears made official the release of nose tackle Eddie Goldman on Monday. Goldman, a 2015 second-round pick, played in 81 games over six seasons with the Bears, totaling 175 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss and 13 sacks. As new Bears GM Ryan Poles reworks the roster, defensive linemen Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols also are set to be unrestricted free agents if they don’t re-sign with the team.
Former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky is signing a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to NFL Network.
What it means: After a reboot season in a backup role with the Buffalo Bills, Trubisky appears to have an opening to start again, heading to Pittsburgh as the Steelers begin the post-Ben Roethlisberger era. With a two-year agreement, Trubisky should have an opening to claim the QB1 role. The other quarterbacks currently under contract are Mason Rudolph, Dwayne Haskins and Josh Dobbs.
Trubisky, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft, spent four seasons in Chicago and made 52 starts between the regular season and playoffs. The Bears declined his fifth-year option in the spring of 2020 and he left the team in free agency last spring. He had an impressive preseason showing with the Bills against the Bears at Soldier Field in August, completing 20 of 28 passes for 221 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jake Kumerow. But during the regular season, Trubisky barely saw the field, throwing only eight passes in mop-up duty behind Josh Allen. (He completed six of those throws for 75 yards but also threw an interception.)
With an ordinary quarterback draft class this spring and the free-agent market thin at the position as well, Trubisky’s second trip into the open market was well-timed. It will be interesting to learn the guaranteed money included in his new deal. In league circles, there was a sense coming into free agency that Trubisky could top $10 million in guaranteed money on a short-term contract that could turn 2022 into another prove-it season.
The Chicago Bears are releasing nose tackle Eddie Goldman, a league source confirmed.
What it means: Ryan Poles continued to make drastic overhauls to the roster he inherited, following Thursday’s agreement to trade Khalil Mack to the Los Angeles Chargers with moves Friday to release Goldman and running back Tarik Cohen.
Poles is operating with an emotion-free mindset and working quickly to reshape his depth chart according to his vision while also making efforts to free up additional salary-cap space and acquire draft picks. And with the Bears shifting to a 4-3 base defense under new coach Matt Eberflus and Goldman carrying a weighty salary heading into his seventh season, Poles made the practical decision to send the veteran nose tackle on his way. NFL Network first reported Goldman was being released.
The Bears had been shopping Goldman, 28, but reportedly couldn’t find a willing trade partner. By releasing Goldman, they should save more than $6.5 million in salary-cap space but will incur a dead cap hit north of $5 million for 2022. Goldman was set to earn more than $8 million next season.
A second-round pick by former general manager Ryan Pace in 2015, Goldman was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 and was a key cog in the defense, particularly in 2018, when the Bears led the NFL in takeaways and points allowed. Goldman opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. He qualified as a “Higher Risk Player Opt Out” because of a medical condition.
Heading into last season, Goldman decided against getting vaccinated and wound up on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list multiple times. He played in 14 games last season but failed to make a major impact.
The Chicago Bears are releasing running back Tarik Cohen with an injury designation, ESPN reported.
What it means: Cohen hadn’t played in a game since Sept. 27, 2020, when he tore his ACL against the Atlanta Falcons.
His departure from the Bears is not a surprise, especially after general manager Ryan Poles declined to discuss Cohen’s health at the NFL scouting combine last week. Former Bears GM Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy also often declined to detail the setbacks that kept Cohen off the field for most of the last two seasons.
ESPN reported Cohen wasn’t able to pass a physical yet but still hopes to be ready for the 2022 season.
Pace drafted Cohen in the fourth round out of North Carolina A&T in 2017, and he was an electric addition to the Bears in his first two seasons.
Early in the 2020 season, the Bears signed Cohen to a three-year contract extension worth up to $18.25 million. More than $9.5 million was fully guaranteed. In 51 games until his injury, Cohen totaled 1,101 rushing yards and five touchdowns plus 1,575 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He also was an All-Pro punt returner in 2018.
His best season came in 2018, when he had 444 rushing yards and three touchdowns and 725 receiving yards and five touchdowns. He also had 33 punt returns for 411 yards that season. His production dropped off during the Bears’ offensive struggles of 2019, and he didn’t get much of a chance to rebound in 2020 before the injury.
The Bears have running backs David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert set to return. Pro Bowl returner Jakeem Grant will be a free agent if the Bears don’t try to re-sign him.
The Bears tendered exclusive-rights free agents Sam Mustipher, Lachavious Simmons and Jesper Horsted on Tuesday but have many more decisions to make in the days to come. Here are the Bears’ pending free agents.
Unrestricted free agents
Allen Robinson, WR
He might be on his way to a fresh start after four seasons in Chicago, the last one a disappointment with just 38 catches for 410 yards. The Bears opted not to use their franchise tag on him a second time.
Jimmy Graham, TE
He had a career-low 14 catches for 167 yards and three touchdowns. The 35-year-old contributed more in a mentorship role than he did on the field.
Andy Dalton, QB
Dalton’s hopes to revive his career as a starter didn’t materialize as the Bears turned to rookie Justin Fields when Dalton was injured. He threw for 1,515 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions in six starts and likely will move on after a year in Chicago.
Jakeem Grant, WR/KR/PR
One of two Bears Pro Bowlers in 2021, along with edge rusher Robert Quinn, Graham was a nice midseason acquisition to help the Bears return game. It will be worth watching where he ends up.
James Daniels, OL
One of the major decisions for the Bears is whether to re-sign the guard after he started all 17 games in his fourth NFL season. He will be only 25 during the 2022 season.
Marquise Goodwin, WR
He joined the Bears on a one-year deal after opting out in 2020 and finished with 20 catches for 313 yards and a touchdown.
Damiere Byrd, WR
In his sixth NFL season and first with the Bears, he had 26 catches for 329 yards and a touchdown.
Jason Peters, OL
The nine-time Pro Bowler, who turned 40 in January, saved the Bears when rookie left tackle Teven Jenkins needed back surgery in training camp. Peters started 15 games in his 17th season.
Germain Ifedi, OL
In his second season in Chicago and sixth in the NFL, he started seven games but spent nearly half the season on injured reserve with a left knee injury.
Elijah Wilkinson, OL
He started one game in his only season for the Bears after four with the Denver Broncos.
Jesse James, TE
He played in 14 games with seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in his first season in Chicago and seventh overall.
Damien Williams, RB
After opting out in 2020, the seven-year NFL veteran had 40 carries for 164 yards and two touchdowns and 16 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown in 12 games.
Akiem Hicks, DL
He missed eight games with injury in 2021, his sixth season in Chicago, and had 3 ½ sacks and nine quarterback hits. Hicks, who turns 33 in November, seemed to be emotional about the possibility of moving on from the Bears.
Tashaun Gipson, S
He signed one-year deals in back-to-back seasons to start alongside Eddie Jackson. In those two years, he had four interceptions, 10 passes defended and 113 tackles.
Bilal Nichols, DL
The Bears’ 2018 fifth-round pick didn’t get a contract extension last year and now becomes an interesting free agent after totaling 146 tackles, 18 for a loss, 11 sacks, 31 quarterback hits and five passes defended in four seaons.
Alec Ogletree, LB
The nine-year veteran started 16 games after joining the Bears in training camp to replace an injured Danny Trevathan. Ogletree had 87 tackles, five tackles for a loss, four passes defended and a forced fumble.
Christian Jones, LB
He was a major contributor on special teams in his second stint in Chicago, which came on a one-year deal. He also made one start on defense.
DeAndre Houston-Carson, S
For six seasons in Chicago, he has been a valuable special teamer, but he stepped up to play more defensive snaps this year. He had 51 tackles, one interception, four passes defended and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in 13 games.
Deon Bush, S
The six-year backup and special teamer made four starts and had a career-high two interceptions and five passes defended.
Artie Burns, CB
He started six of the final seven games after the Bears benched Kindle Vildor, totaling 23 tackles and six passes defended. He previously played four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and sat out 2020 with the Bears with a knee injury.
Marqui Christian, DB
In his sixth NFL season, Christian played a big role on special teams and also played 126 snaps on defense.
Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB
He has been a special teams mainstay for the last four seasons but saw very little time on defense.
Margus Hunt, DL
In his ninth NFL season, he played in 10 games, recording 14 tackles, including 3 for a loss.
Cassius Marsh, EDGE
The veteran had an unfortunate stay in Chicago when he first incurred a controversial taunting penalty against the Pittsburgh Steelers and later suffered a knee injury after playing in just four games.
Bruce Irvin, EDGE
The veteran late-season addition played in the final six games, with seven tackles and two quarterback hits.
Pat O’Donnell, P
He wrapped up his eighth season in the NFL, in which he averaged 46.2 yards per punt and helped kicker Cairo Santos on a team-record made-field-goals streak.
Patrick Scales, LS
He has been with the Bears since 2015 and was in his second year of working with Santos and O’Donnell.
Restricted free agents
The Bears also have five restricted free agents: tight end J.P. Holtz, offensive lineman Alex Bars, running back Ryan Nall and defensive backs Xavier Crawford and Teez Tabor.
The Bears tendered one-year contracts to exclusive-rights free agents Sam Mustipher, Jesper Horsted and Lachavious Simmons.
What it means: Mustipher started all 17 games for the Bears at center in 2021 after starting seven in 2020. He was an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2019, when he spent the year on the practice squad. Poles will reveal in the weeks ahead whether the Bears see Mustipher as a continued starter or whether they will bring in his replacement and keep him as depth.
Horsted, a tight end, has seen limited playing time with the Bears over three years. He caught two touchdown passes — his only two catches — in seven games in 2021. He had eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown in 2019 and spent 2020 on the practice squad.
Simmons, an offensive lineman the Bears drafted in the seventh round in 2020, played in two games in 2021, stepping in for a start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.
Exclusive-rights free agents are players with two or fewer accrued seasons and an expired contract. When their teams tender them contracts, they can’t negotiate with other teams.
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