Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Bears are reportedly working on a 3-year deal with ILB Mason Foster, formerly of the Tampa Bay Bucs.
The Bears have some question marks at inside linebacker with their switch to a 3-4 scheme and Foster has been a guy on my radar as a possible fit for the Bears since the beginning of the offseason. Here is what I wrote about Foster back in January:
"LB Mason Foster (25), Bucs -I was high on Foster coming out of college in 2011 due to his elite run stopping potential. He has good instincts, takes proper angles to the ball, rarely misses a tackle, and likes to hit. Injuries have hampered his production with the Bucs, but he didn’t miss a game in college so I’m confident it’s not an on-going issue. Foster’s versatility is another plus, he played all three 4-3 LB spots in college and could fit multiple defensive schemes. He likely won’t carry a hefty price tag due to injuries and limited production, but the former 3rd round pick would give the Bears a potential starter at any of the LB spots."
Foster struggled at times in the middle of the Bucs defense with a -8.2 grade from Pro Football Focus last season, but the Bucs defense played much better when Foster was on the field. In the ten games Foster started the Bucs allowed an average of 12 less points and exactly one hundred less total yards. I think Foster will be a better fit as a 3-4 ILB and was my 2nd choice for the Bears at the position behind Bruce Carter, who just signed with the Bucs for 4-years, $20M.
Foster has improved his coverage skills every season with a positive coverage grade from PFF for the first time in 2014. He is a sound tackler and should help improve the interior run defense which has been a major problem for the Bears the last two seasons. If signed Foster will be a favorite to win a spot as a starting ILB next to Jon Bostic or perhaps Christian Jones.