Freeman latest piece in Bears defensive makeover

Please generate and paste your ad code here. If left empty, the ad location will be highlighted on your blog pages with a reminder to enter your code. •

football field
Saturday shaped up as another busy day for the Chicago Bears in free agency. The Bears agreed to terms with LB Jerrell Freeman on a three-year contract, and re-signed role players Mitch Unrein and Marc Mariani.

Freeman is an active, instinctive, and rangy playmaker who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the pile, yet is equally skilled in coverage. He possesses a knack for being around the ball, something the Bears will relish after a dearth of defensive takeaways in 2015.

Listed at 6-0, 240-pounds, Freeman has started all 57 games he has played over four seasons (2012-15) with the Indianapolis Colts, registering 478 tackles, 12 sacks, 21 tackles for losses, eight forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, four interceptions – two of which he returned for touchdowns – and 17 pass break-ups.

His 478 tackles (according to press box statistics) are tied for sixth in the NFL over the last four seasons and Freeman led the Colts in defensive stops in 2012 (145) and 2013 (126) and ranked second on the team in 2014 (95) and 2015 (112).

Freeman is one of three NFL linebackers since 2012 to record at least eight forced fumbles and four interceptions along with Lavonte David and Thomas Davis.

In six postseason contests (five starts), Freeman has 54 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor product entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2012 after playing three seasons (2009-2011) with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL.

Please generate and paste your ad code here. If left empty, the ad location will be highlighted on your blog pages with a reminder to enter your code. •

Meanwhile, Unrein adds much needed depth to the Bears defensive line.

Unrein has seen playing time in 70 games with seven starts over six seasons with Denver (2011-14), San Diego (2015) and Chicago (2015), recording 81 tackles – including three tackles for losses and one sack – and one fumble recovery.

In 2015, Unrein appeared in 16 games overall (14 for Chicago and two with San Diego) with four starts in a Bears uniform, producing 33 tackles, one sack, two TFLs, one pass break-up and six QB pressures (all stats with Chicago except one tackle).

Unrein has seen action in six postseason contests with Denver, recording six tackles – including one TFL.

Mariani’s late season play and toughness was enough to warrant the Bears bringing him back on a one-year deal.