The Bears Den: March 12, 2014 - Chicago Bears free agency news & notes

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears didn't sign every single top free agent available??? The season's over, man. It's over.

Larry Mayer's Chalk Talk - Larry discusses how many of last year's acquisitions made the Bears' 53-man roster, why it's difficult to quantify how much space the Bears have under the salary cap, and the chances of Nate Collins winning a starting job.

Bears move fast in free agency to bolster defense - Rich Campbell: In first two hours they sign DE Lamarr Houston, safety Ryan Mundy and LBs D.J. Williams and Jordan Senn, and soon release Julius Peppers

Bears focus on D-line a nice change - Barry Rozner: The Bears had to figure last spring that it would take years, not days, to join the 21st century on offense. The fact that it happened so quickly only means that they can now get started on rebuilding the defense.

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Bears sign DE Lamarr Houston

Bears land free agent Lamarr Houston - Larry Mayer: Just hours into the NFL free agent signing period Tuesday, the Bears bolstered their defense by agreeing to a five-year contract with DE Lamarr Houston. Photos and [Video] highlights from ChicagoBears.com.

Bears sign Houston to five-year deal - Bob LeGere: Though far from the elite pass rusher the Bears are seeking, Houston is more than adequate against the pass and a strong run defender. Plus, more news from day 1 of free agency.

Player profile - Adam Hoge: Houston is strong against the run and while his sack numbers could certainly be better, he was a Top 25 pass rusher in terms of disruptions without much help in Oakland. Signing might shift the focus to DT, CB or safety in the draft.

Lamarr Houston agrees to deal with Bears - Wright & Dickerson: The Bears secured one of the top pass rushers on the open market, reaching agreement on a five-year, $35 million contract with the former Raiders DE.

Houston addition a good start for Bears - Michael C. Wright: Houston’s lack of gaudy statistics mask the flexibility he gives the Bears not only schematically, but also in what the club does moving forward in free agency and the NFL draft.

Bears upsize D-line with Houston - Moon Mullin: Houston, 26, is one of the league’s highest-rated edge players against the run, as much of a priority as the pass rush after last season’s difficulties. The increased size up front reflects a realization that if the Bears cannot stop the run, the rest of their scheming matters little.

Dan Pompei Q&A - Why doesn't Pompei think Houston is a good signing for Bears? More thoughts.

[Video] ESPN - Michael C. Wright discusses the Bears' first day of free agency and the impact of acquiring Lamarr Houston.

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Bears sign Lamarr Houston from Oakland. [KAPCON: 5]

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Julius Peppers released

Bears set to release Julius Peppers - Larry Mayer: The Bears on Tuesday informed veteran DE Julius Peppers that they are terminating his contract.

Julius Peppers released by Bears - Michael C. Wright: Twice-restructured contract led to cap hits of $18M and $20M+ over the next two years, which were unsustainable for the Bears.

Eight-time Pro Bowler Peppers a salary cap casualty - Bob LeGere: Move frees up nearly $10 million under this year's $133 million salary cap.

Bears now need to replace Peppers' production - Michael C. Wright: The Bears plan to spend some more in a free-agent market that could pay off big in terms of bargains for teams that exercise some patience.

[Video] ESPN - Adam Schefter on the Bears releasing veteran Julius Peppers. Brent Sobleski: Five potential suitors.

Numbers game catches up with Peppers - Jon Greenberg: Peppers' signing was looked upon with awe, and his release met with indifference. Hired guns don't get romance and nostalgia. They get a paycheck and a thank you.

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Bears active on day 1 of NFL free agency

Bears retain D.J. Williams - Larry Mayer: On the first day of NFL free agency Tuesday, the Bears retained one of their own players, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with veteran MLB D.J. Williams. Photos and [Video] highlights from ChicagoBears.com.

Bears re-sign LB D.J. Williams - Adam Hoge: Bears absolutely needed a starting middle linebacker and have protected themselves from salary liability if he gets hurt again; could still draft a MLB,

Bears agree to terms with Jordan Senn - Larry Mayer: The Bears bolstered their defense and special teams by agreeing to terms with LB Jordan Senn on a one-year contract. Photos from ChicagoBears.com. Jeff Dickerson: Replacing Blake Costanzo?

Bears agree to deal with Ryan Mundy - Larry Mayer: The Bears bolstered their secondary by agreeing to terms with safety Ryan Mundy on a two-year contract. Photos from ChicagoBears.com.

Player profile - Adam Hoge: Ryan Mundy has experience at both free and strong safety, so do the Bears plan on him starting at strong safety or do they just want him competing with Chris Conte at free? Brad Biggs: Expect Bears to draft a safety while considering other veteran options.

Bears get better on first day of free agency - Brad Biggs: Lamarr Houston and Ryan Mundy won't set the NFL world on fire, but they get the Bears off to a good start in reshaping their defense.

Bears' free-agent moves still leave holes on defense - David Haugh: The Bears upgraded their depth on defense by signing Lamarr Houston and three others on Day 1 of free agency, but they still lack impact players.

What's next for Bears? - Dan Wiederer: Despite signing two starters, there still are plenty of holes for the Bears to fill during free agency.

[Video] View from the Moon - Moon Mullin on the Bears' busy start to free agency.

Roster notes - The Tribune: Meet the new Bears [slideshow of bio-boxes].

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Bearsss

Upgrading roster a year-round process - Larry Mayer: Phil Emery made a big splash on the first day of free agency in each of his first two years as Bears GM. But he looks at upgrading the roster as a year-round endeavor.

Bears' offense teaming up for offseason workouts - The O-line get some work in together; meanwhile Cutler was working on his passing game, throwing balls to Marshall in Florida.

Henry Melton takes over the top spot after the first day of free agency - Brent Sobleski's top remaining free agents after Tuesday's barrage of signings includes Jared Allen, who lists the bears among the "fewer than five" teams he's considering.

McCown to visit Bucs, Texans, Jets - Jeff Dickerson: Free agent Josh McCown will visit the Buccaneers, Texans and Jets, in that order; all three potential destinations should provide him with the opportunity to compete to be the starting QB. Dan Pompei: Other veteran backups in case he leaves.

No shortage of free agency suitors for late-blooming McCown - Don Banks: Thought to be first and foremost interested in finding the team that will fully commit to him if he earns the job, Bucs and Jets would offer Josh McCown the potential of longer-term starting chances.

[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Where will Josh McCown end up? [KAPCON: 4]

McCown preparing to hit road in free agency - Dan Wiederer: Describes impending visits to teams as "fact-finding missions" and said Tuesday he had zero intention of visiting another team solely as a means of putting additional pressure on the Bears.

Tillman's chances with Buccaneers take a blow - Dan Wiederer: The chances of a Charles Tillman-Lovie Smith reunion seemed to diminish significantly when the Bucs signed Alterraun Verner to a four-year deal, reportedly worth $26 million.

Money a question mark for Hester - Jeff Dickerson: Devin Hester earned $2.1M last season but will likely have to settle for around half that amount on the market.

Sun-Times Bears section here.

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Polish sausage

An inside view on NFL draft pro days - Matt Bowen breaks down why prospects should produce excellent workouts on campus.

Mendenhall's early retirement is part of a larger NFL trend - Dan Pompei:Time has always been the fiercest opponent for NFL players. But Rashard Mendenhall is the latest to see his career as a sprint, moving up the finish line to take better control of his life after football.

Know thy enemy: Lions - Michael Rothstein's Lions free agency primer: Defense. Lions had to bring Bell back for new offense ... Golden Tate to visit Lions.

Know thy enemy: Vikings - Ben Goessling: Linval Joseph continues Vikings' D-line remodel. Assessing the Vikings' CB options.

Know thy enemy: Packers - Rob Demovsky: To the surprise of no one, the Packers sat idle on the first day of free agency. And Day 2 could be more of the same.

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No prizes for guessing what comes tomorrow!

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