Chicago Bears sign DE Willie Young for 3-yrs, $9M


Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears signed former Lions DE Willie Young to a 3-yr deal worth $9M with $3.95 guaranteed. I covered Young yesterday in my DE target article  and here was my breakdown:

“Willie Young (28): His 4 sacks in 2013 might not excite Bears fans, but they don’t tell the whole story of how productive Young was an edge rusher last season. He finished third in the league with 48 QB hurries, behind only Greg Hardy and Cameron Wake. Young might demand as much as $5M per year, so it could be a stretch to fit him in under the cap. For the 2013 season, Young graded almost equally against the run and pass, so he’s not just an edge rusher but a well-rounded DE who can stay on the field all three downs.”

I think Young was one of the most underrated DE prospects on the market and frankly, $3M per is a steal for a player with Young’s skill-set and age. I already mentioned Young’s 48 QB hurries last season, but he also finished the year with a 7.0 grade which tied for 16th overall at the position with Brian Robison from the Vikings (PFF). It was an impressive performance from a guy in his first year as a starter and full-time player and I think Young will continue to improve.

The Bears were able to sign two defensive ends that are in their prime and still conceivably getting better. Both players had low sack totals and a high total of QB hurries in 2013 which shows me that Emery isn’t tied to the traditional football metrics. I’ve pushed for both of these guys since the beginning of the off-season, so I am pretty happy right now! All that could make me happier is if the Bears sign S Chris D Clemons and DT Henry Melton today.

Here is what some well-known analysts think about Willie Young:

Bill Polian (ESPN):  Young has good length and motor, along with good first-step quickness. He can bend off the edge, has good counter moves but is more suited as a situational pass-rusher because his liability is power at the point of attack against the run. His best fit is as a 4-3 DE. The sack numbers don’t show it, but Willie Young had a solid season both in terms of rushing the passer and stuffing the run. At just 28, he deserves a fairly decent-sized contract.

Pro Football Focus: Former first-round draft picks Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley get most of the attention for Detroit’s defensive line, but starting right defensive end Willie Young has also been a factor. A seventh-round pick from 2010, Young earned the third-highest overall grade on that fearsome Lions DL, with only six penalties dragging that grade down. While he only recorded four sacks, he did register another 56 pressures and four batted passes.

Twitter: @MikeFlannery_