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2013 FA review: LB James Anderson

2/11/2014

Money: Signed a one-year deal for $950,000 that also included a $200,000 signing bonus and $100,000 workout bonus. Anderson took up $1.25 million worth of salary cap space in 2013.

Stats: Anderson became the first Bears player other than Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs to lead the team in tackles since Barry Minter in 1999. The eight-year NFL veteran made 129.5 tackles and a career-best four sacks. Anderson registered 7.5 tackles for loss, three pass breakups, 10 quarterback pressures and one fumble recovery.

2013 role: Anderson was the only veteran linebacker to start all 16 games. He lined up on the strong side in the Bears’ base defense, but remained on the field in the nickel package and became the defensive signal-caller after Briggs suffered a shoulder fracture on Oct. 20. Anderson, new to the defensive scheme, played his best football before Briggs and D.J. Williams were lost to injuries. He finished the year with 14 tackles in two of the final three games against the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers.

The good: Anderson began the season with tackles for loss in three of the first five games. He meshed well with Briggs and Williams. Anderson’s four sacks tied for second on the team with Shea McClellin. The linebacker recorded a minimum of 10 tackles in six different games. Anderson’s even-keeled personality seemed to play well in the locker room with his teammates. His production (129.5 tackles) exceeded the modest one-year deal he signed in free agency. Anderson stayed healthy for the entire year.

The bad: Because of his lack of familiarity and experience within this particular defensive scheme, Anderson was unable to offer much assistance to rookies Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene when the two rookies were obviously struggling to be in the correct spot after being pressed into action. Despite Anderson’s impressive statistics, he was part of one of the worst run defenses and front-sevens in Bears’ history.

2014 role: Unknown. Anderson is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. He is probably seeking a multiyear deal after taking a one-year contract to join the Bears. Anderson was not part of the group of players the Bears re-signed at the conclusion of the regular season. The market could dictate whether Anderson returns to Chicago.