Bears add Foster to add depth at LB

Updated 3/25/2015 12:18 AM

After the Bears bolstered their defensive line by signing Ray McDonald and Jarvis Jenkins earlier in the day, they added some much-needed help at linebacker late Tuesday afternoon when they agreed to terms with Mason Foster on a one-year deal.

The 6-foot-2, 242-pound Foster is expected to contend for one of the inside starting spots in the Bears' new 3-4 defense, probably on the weak side, where his strength as a run-stopper would be best utilized.


Foster was a starter in each of his four years in Tampa Bay after the Buccaneers drafted him in the third round (84th overall) in 2011 out of Washington. But he is not considered a strong player in coverage and would probably suit the Bears best as a two-down player who is replaced in nickel situations.

Foster, who turned 26 earlier this month, missed just one game in his first three seasons when he started 44 times. But he was limited to 10 games last year because of a dislocated shoulder in September and an Achilles injury in December.

He is the latest addition to a Bears unit that is in flux personnel -- and scheme-wise. Outside linebacker-defensive end Pernell McPhee was added earlier in free agency.

Two of the Bears starters at linebacker last year -- seven-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams -- are unrestricted free agents and unlikely to return. That leaves Jon Bostic as the only other player on the roster with much experience at inside linebacker, and that was in the Bears' former 4-3 alignment. Bostic made five of his eight starts in 2014 at middle linebacker and all nine of his 2013 starts in the middle with mixed results.

Khaseem Greene, who was drafted in the fourth round in 2013, two rounds after Bostic, has made six starts at weakside linebacker without distinguishing himself. Christian Jones, an undrafted rookie last year out of Florida State, wound up starting five games but could be better suited at outside linebacker along with 2012 first-round draft pick Shea McClellin, who started 10 games at strongside linebacker last year.


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