Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Bears bring back MLB Williams
By Michael C. Wright
The Chicago Bears agreed to terms Tuesday with middle linebacker D.J. Williams on a one year deal.
Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but it's likely it's similar to the deal Williams signed last offseason.
Williams signed a one-year deal last March that paid a base salary of $900,000 with a maximum value of $1.75 million. After suffering a calf injury at training camp Williams missed the entire preseason but played six games before tearing a pectoral muscle Oct. 10 against the New York Giants.
Williams contributed 27 tackles, including two for lost yardage, in addition to a quarterback pressure, two sacks and one forced fumble.
The club brought in Williams as the replacement at middle linebacker for future Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher, and he projected to be a potential steal in free agency because of his speed and athleticism.
Prior to joining the Bears, Williams had racked up 90 tackles or more in five of the previous six seasons, and despite playing only briefly in 2013 he displayed enough upside in terms of ability and leadership that general manager Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman considered the linebacker a priority in free agency.
The sides tried to work out a deal prior to the start of free agency, and they negotiated throughout the weekend and finished up Monday close to coming to an agreement.
Although Emery mentioned he'd like to infuse youth on the defense through free agency and the draft, Williams remains an ideal fit despite the fact he'll be 32 at the start of the 2014 season.
It bodes well for Williams that Emery has said at some point the club wants to utilize rising second year man Jonathan Bostic's run-and-hit skillset by moving him to an outside linebacker spot. That would leave open a spot in the middle for Williams.
Emery has said Bostic and former defensive end Shea McClellin will compete for the starting job at Sam linebacker, but Trestman also said that both would see time in the middle.
Williams spent a good portion of his time after the regular season rehabilitating at Halas Hall.
Williams believes he's still capable of producing as a starter.
"I know I still have a good amount of years left in me," he said after the season. "I still have talent."