The Chicago Bears were a busy team on Tuesday, agreeing to 1-year contracts with defensive end Ray McDonaldand defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, and reportedly agreeing to a 1-year pact with linebacker Mason Foster.
Although none of the three players are what would be considered game-breakers, they all bring their own unique skillsets to the table. McDonald will be looking to move forward with his career after accusations of domestic abuse caused the San Francisco 49’ers to cut him loose, and under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio (who coached him in the Bay Area), McDonald has an opportunity to grab a starting job on the Bears’ defensive line and be an integral part of their new 3-4 defense.
That defense, which will see guys like Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston likely shifting back to the outside linebacker position in some packages, will need linemen like McDonald, and Jenkins will also be relied upon to solidify the position. He won’t ever be the type of guy who’s going to hit the quarterback at every opportunity, but he is a very solid run defender and should help the Bears out immensely if they end up giving Ego Ferguson some playing time at nose tackle this season.
As for Foster, the Bears were in desperate need of an interior linebacker to help lock down the middle of the field, and it appears as though they got their man. They do have players like Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene who could potentially fit into the role of inside linebacker, but Foster gives them a more reliable option in that area, and he will be a critical piece as they try to sort out who will play where in Fangio’s system.
The one thing that all of these deals have in common is that they’re short-term fixes and that won’t hamstring the team if they don’t work out. Ryan Pace has been very careful with doling out money this year, with big contracts to Jay Cutler and Jared Allen currently saddling the team with salary cap restrictions. While that may have limited his ability to go out and get guys that would make a massive impact, he has made the most of the situation as he brings in guys that could help in the transition to a 3-4 defense (and hopefully help avoid a repeat of the last two seasons of woefully horrible defensive performance).