Bears, McClellin agree to terms

Updated: May 12, 2012, 12:03 PM ET
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears made sure to start rookie minicamp Friday with first-round pick Shea McClellin in attendance.

Minutes before the start of the club's first minicamp workout at Halas Hall, the Bears announced they agreed to terms with McClellin on a four-year contract with a fifth-year option. Terms of the deal weren't immediately disclosed.

"I think it's good to get it out of the way. My agents did a great job getting it done before camp," McClellin said. " I just let my agents handle it. ... I'm definitely relieved."

A defensive end from Boise State, McClellin became the 19th overall pick of last month's NFL draft after a collegiate career in which he started 38 games, with 130 tackles and 20½ sacks in four seasons.

"(Defensive end) is all he's going to do for us," coach Lovie Smith said Friday. "If you watched practice today, I don't think you saw him (dropping into coverage) or anything like that.

"He had his hand down in the dirt trying to become a better pass rusher. That's what it's all about. You hope to be able to put pressure on the quarterback. We think we got better with our pass rush by bringing him in."

General manager Phil Emery praised McClellin's instincts after drafting him.

"If there's one area that stands out for me as an evaluator in evaluating Shea -- myself and our coaches and scouts -- is his high level of football instincts. This is a very natural player," Emery said just after the draft. "He plays with a very low pad level. He finds the ball quickly, through blocks, which is a skill in itself. He reads pressure well. He can feel where the ball's going. He has a very natural ability to find the right path to the ball off blocks, and make tackles as quick as possible."

Ideally, McClellin would win the starting job at left defensive end opposite Julius Peppers, which would relegate veteran Israel Idonije to a backup role.

McClellin's vast experience playing multiple positions makes the rookie an enticing option, should the Bears choose to add a few wrinkles in 2012 to the defense.

With the signing Friday, McClellin became the fifth member of the 2012 Bears draft class to agree to a deal. Sixth-round cornerback Isaiah Frey agreed to terms Thursday, and the club already has signed second-round receiver Alshon Jeffery, fourth-round tight end Evan Rodriguez and seventh-round cornerback Greg McCoy.

Michael C. Wright

ESPN Chicago Bears reporter