Bears retain Ratliff - Larry Mayer: The Bears agreed to terms with veteran DT Jeremiah Ratliff Wednesday on a two-year contract, the 10th of their own free agents they have re-signed. Wiederer & Biggs: Wants to finish career with the Bears. Moon Mullin: "Pretty good locker room".
Adam Podlesh last to go of poor free agent class - Brad Biggs: Podlesh part of Jerry Angelo's last group of free agents in 2011 that contributed so little to the team and so much to his dismissal.
Hester says he won't be back with Bears next season - (AP) Hester will hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent after an eight-year run with the Bears that produced no shortage of highlights. [Video] Hoping for call from Lovie Smith.
[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Devin Hester not likely to return in 2014. The panel ruminate. [KAPCON: 5]
Ripple effects of Ratliff re-signing can affect Bears' 2014 plans - Moon Mullin: With Paea and Ratliff under contract, the Bears are a significant step closer toward the kind of interior strength too often missing last season. Kyle Long hoping Nate Collins returns.
[Video] - Michael C. Wright discusses the team’s plans for Julius Peppers and Henry Melton.
Bears' free agent outlook - Nate Davis: Phil Emery will likely have to address Julius Peppers' bloated salary to create flexibility for a team that was hapless against the run and atrocious at safety. Rivers McCown: Football Outsiders' take on the NFC North.
Roster analysis - Jeff Dickerson & Michael C. Wright continue their look at the Bears' free agents: Henry Melton, Zack Bowman, Major Wright, and Corey Wootton.
Roster analysis - Moon Mullin: Devin Hester, James Anderson, Major Wright expected to be among quiet Bears exits.
Knee injury likely to cost Melton in free agency - Rich Campbell: Henry Melton's ongoing recovery from reconstructive knee surgery is likely to cost him top dollar on the free agent market, says Bill Polian.
Nine biggest wild cards in free agency - Gregg Rosenthal: Henry Melton is a lot younger than other free agent options like Jason Hatcher, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, and could be a huge difference-maker at a low price.
Free agency primer: Defensive line - Chris Burke: Any team in need of a proven three-technique DT should have Henry Melton leading its wish list.
Bears free agency targets: DE - James Neveau: Who[m - Den] will the Bears target at defensive end when free agency begins next week?
Bears may need to pay for a safety first before D-Linemen - Moon Mullin: With Major Wright done in Chicago, the need at safety may come up for attention simply out of necessity, and default.
Free agency primer: Top 25 DBs - Marc Sessler: Looking for secondary help? You're in luck -- this year's crop of free-agent CBs and safeties includes proven starters like Alterraun Verner.
Football Outsiders - Aaron Schatz takes a look at FO's Run Stop Rates metric. Briggs and Tillman fare among the best at their positions, Peppers and Conte do not. [Hat tip to weepingbear.]
Mock Draft - Matt Smith [not the outgoing Dr Who actor Matt Smith] has the Bears going with Timmy Jernigan "if he's still around after that combine performance, and all the momentum he already had going into Indy."
Mock Draft - Doug Farrar: Louis Nix has the agility and short-area speed to allow the Bears to be more versatile and variable in their line concepts, not unlike Dontari Poe did for the Chiefs last season.
[Video] CSNChicago discussion - Could Chicago, Soldier Field earn a Super Bowl bid? [KAPCON: 4]
Soldier Field expansion has unanswered questions - Bill Ruthhart & John Byrne: Mayor Rahm Emanuel's idea of expanding Soldier Field was met with questions Wednesday about how the city would pay for added seats and whether it’s a prudent move given the city’s shaky finances.
Sun-Times Bears section here.
NFL franchise tag kills the notion of a true open market - Andrew Brandt explains the nuances of the franchise tag and the transition tag, and the ripple effects they’ll have on free agency.
NFL free agency is about being cautions of risks and red flags - Andy Benoit: Amidst the excitement, fans and media overvalue unsigned players. Worse yet, so do coaches and GMs. The NFL system is not set up for great players to hit free agency.
Know thy enemy: Packers - Nate Davis' free agent outlook: D-line must be replenished, but GM Ted Thompson likely to address his internal contract issues first. Rob Demovsky: Packers must solve their 49ers problem.
Know thy enemy: Lions - Nate Davis' free agent outlook: Ndamukong Suh may have to be paid first as All-Pro DT is scheduled for free agency in 2015.
Know thy enemy: Vikings - Nate Davis' free agent outlook: Will Minnesota get Matt Cassel back? Vikings probably need veteran QB as bridge to the future. Ben Goessling: Situational role might be Jared Allen's best bet.