NFL Free Agency: Chicago Bears sign Lamarr Houston

Ezra Shaw

The Chicago Bears have begun reworking their defense with some actual talent. Bears GM Phil Emery has signed former Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston.

After free agent defensive end Michael Bennett decided to remain in Seattle, the Chicago Bears quickly moved on to Plan B. The Bears have signed defensive end Lamarr Houston, formerly of the Oakland Raiders.

If you're upset the Bears lost out on Michael Bennett, don't be. Lamarr Houston is a similar player to Bennett, as both are scheme versatile. Houston primarily played DE in Oakland's 4-3 defense, but he has the size (6'3", 300 pounds) to kick inside to defensive tackle, and the athleticism to stand up and play outside linebacker which he did for the Raiders on occasion.

Our Raiders blogger, Silver and Black Pride, tells WCG:

"What began as a great 2013 season by Lamarr Houston plateaued a bit near the end of the season. Even still, he had a career best 6.0 sacks and led all 4-3 defensive ends with 54 solo tackles. He doesn't rack up a lot of sacks but he is among the league leaders in quarterback pressures and is statistically the best run stopping defensive end in the league. He has played both sides of the line with equal proficiency and his size makes him a fit for either 4-3 or 3-4 defensive end. He is also a great locker room presence and passionate on-field performer."

Through his first 4 four years in the NFL Bennett had 98 tackles and 15 sacks. Through four years as a pro, Houston has 16.5 sacks and 228 tackles. Houston is also two years younger than Bennett.

Bennett will give more speed off the edge, while Houston is more of a power pass rusher. That doesn't mean Houston is slow, because he does have some burst to his game.

Houston was playing at a Pro Bowl level during the season, but faded down the stretch. Playing 1,049 defensive snaps for a bad Raiders team could do that to you.

Long time NFL writer Dan Pompei believes that Houston is a bad fit for the Bears.

He would help. But if I'm paying $7 million a year to a defensive end, I want sacks. The main thing you want out of a defensive end in a 4-3 defense is quarterback pressure. Sacks are why these guys get paid. Run defense is secondary. Houston is coming off a season in which he had a career high six sacks. That is one sack fewer than Julius Peppers had. If you put age out of the equation, there is no question I'd rather have Peppers.

But age is a factor. Houston is will be 27 in June, while Peppers just turned 34. Houton has some good football left in front of him, while Peppers is on the down side of his career.

And in regards to the quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus Houston had 41 QB hurries, 9th best among 4-3 DEs, and 16 QB hits, 8th best. His numbers are probably inflated due to his thousand plus snaps, but he was still getting to the quarterback more than Peppers who had 27 hurries and 6 QB its.

I think Houston will help the rush defense immensely, and his versatility will allow the Bears to take advantage of mismatches along the line. We'll see him rushing the QB from end and tackle.

More on his contract...

What do you think about the Bears signing Lamarr Houston?

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