LeGere: Bears trying to land free-agent safety Rolle

Updated 3/10/2015 11:18 PM

The Bears flew under the radar in the opening hours of free agency Tuesday, which featured a frenzied flurry of trades and big-money signings.

But late in the afternoon the Bears appeared to have the inside track on three-time Pro Bowl safety Antrel Rolle, who spent the past five seasons with the New York Giants.


According to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, Rolle was visiting with the Bears on Tuesday afternoon but had not agreed to terms.

The 32-year-old Rolle would be a welcome addition for Bears general manager Ryan Pace at a position seriously in need of an upgrade. The Bears were 30th in passing yards allowed last season and 31st in average gain allowed per pass play.

Rolle went to the Pro Bowl after the 2013 season for the third time, and he was in the starting lineup together with Bears safety Ryan Mundy for the first seven games that season.

Rolle has missed just one start in the previous seven seasons, and the 6-foot, 206-pounder has 26 career interceptions in 10 years, including a total of 9 in the past two seasons.

He is considered a physical and willing tackler more suited to strong safety. But he has played free safety in the past and is effective in coverage and an above-average ball athlete, something the Bears have been missing from their safeties for several years.

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Rolle was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Cardinals, out of Miami, and he played five years in Arizona before signing a $37.1 million five-year deal with the Giants.

Royal treatment:

Late Tuesday, the Bears were meeting with former Denver and San Diego wide receiver Eddie Royal and reportedly were close to agreeing to terms with the seven-year veteran. Royal immediately could fill the void the Bears have for a quick slot receiver.

The 5-10, 185-pound Royal was the Broncos' second-round choice in 2008 and caught 91 passes for 980 yards and 5 touchdowns as a rookie with Jay Cutler as his quarterback. That was Cutler's last season at Denver. The next two years Royal's Broncos position coach was new Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

But Royal never approached his rookie numbers in the following six years. His next best season was last year, when he caught 62 passes for 788 yards and 7 touchdowns in his third season with the Chargers.


Just good business:

Former Bears defensive tackle Stephen Paea's deal with Washington is worth $21 million over four years and includes $15 million in guaranteed money.

Paea had the most productive 2014 season of any of the Bears free agents. His career-best 6 sacks were third on the team, and his 32 solo tackles were twice as many as he had in any of his previous three seasons.

But with the Bears switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4, Paea was not worth as much to them as he was a 4-3 team like Washington.

Take my WR, please:

How desperate were the Bears to rid themselves of Brandon Marshall?

They threw in a seventh-round draft pick along with the five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver in exchange for the New York Jets' fifth-round pick. The trade became official Tuesday at 3 p.m. when the new league year began.

Insurance policy:

Backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who was re-signed last week, will count $1.125 million against the salary cap. His one-year deal includes a base salary of $745,000, a $262,500 signing bonus and a $117,500 workout bonus.

Clausen started one game last season for the Bears when Jay Cutler was benched, but he suffered a concussion near the end of the Week 16 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Moving on:

As expected the Bears will not re-sign middle linebacker D.J. Williams, who started 10 games last season and tied for fifth on the team with 73 tackles. But Williams will be 33 before training camp starts and has missed 21 games over the past three seasons with injuries.

• Follow Bob's Bears and NFL reports on Twitter@BobLeGere.

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