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updated: 3/9/2014 11:30 PM

Nate Collins, Jordan Palmer staying with Bears

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Just ahead of the start of free agency, which kicks off Tuesday at 3 p.m., the Bears kept two of their own players off the market late Sunday.

Defensive tackle Nate Collins and quarterback Jordan Palmer agreed on one-year contracts, which still leaves 17 members of the 2013 team eligible to accept offers from other teams. Collins and Palmer provide insurance and depth at positions that are question marks for 2014.

Collins started last season as a key member of the defensive-tackle rotation and wound up starting two games after opening-day starters Henry Melton and Stephen Paea were injured. The 6-foot-2, 296-pound Collins played well in the first two starts of his four-year career, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 after making 13 tackles, including 1 sack.

The Bears re-signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff last week to a two-year, $4 million deal, but two other key defensive linemen (Melton and Corey Wootton) are due to hit the market.

Palmer, who spent the last nine games of last season as the Bears' No. 3 quarterback, provides a veteran presence behind starter Jay Cutler.

Josh McCown, last year's backup who started five games when Cutler was out with a groin injury, also is set to test free agency, where he will attract a lot of attention if the Bears don't re-sign him before Tuesday.

Palmer did not appear in any regular-season games last season. In two preseason games he completed 12 of 18 pass attempts for 116 yards and 1 touchdown for a 103.0 passer rating.

Although the 6-5, 230-pound Palmer is a five-year veteran, he never has started a regular-season game and has thrown just 15 passes.

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