Chicago Bears Sign Jerrell Freeman, Shea McClellin Most Likely Out
Three days after signing inside linebacker Danny Trevathan to a four-year deal, the Chicago Bears continued to upgrade the interior of their linebacking corps by agreeing to terms with Jerrell Freeman on Saturday. The deal between the Bears and Freeman is reported to be a three-year, $12 million contract with $6 million guaranteed. With another major signing added to Chicago’s group of linebackers, the writing is clearly on the wall regarding the future of Shea McClellin.
Having now Trevathan and Freeman as the potential starting inside linebackers for the Bears in 2016, McClellin most definitely won’t be returning to the Windy City. It’s been reported that the 2012 first-round draft pick could possibly reunite with a couple of former Bears (Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte) in the Big Apple, after having met with the New York Jets on Friday.
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The signings of Trevathan and Freeman instantly improves a Chicago run defense that ranked 22nd in the NFL last season, and could persuade other free agents, like defensive end Akiem Hicks, to join the party. The possibility of having Hicks as a part of the front seven could make the Bears’ defensive unit one of the best in the league in 2016.
Freeman, who will be 30 years old in May, has played only four years in the league with the Indianapolis Colts, and has had over 100 tackles in three of those seasons. Prior to that, Freeman played three years in the Canadian Football League. So, even though he doesn’t have a household name, Freeman does have the experience and skill to perfectly fit in with Chicago’s defensive scheme.
Despite having a solid year playing inside linebacker for the first time as a pro, McClellin still appeared to struggle at times, along with fellow inside linebacker Christian Jones. McClellin’s performance last season was vital to proving to general manager Ryan Pace that he was worth re-signing. The odds were already against McClellin before the 2015 season even started, with Pace opting out of the fifth-year option to McClellin’s rookie contract.
It’s unfortunate that McClellin took this long to find his place in the NFL. Had Chicago ran a 3-4 scheme when McClellin was drafted, and he was inserted at inside linebacker from day one, we might be telling a different story now. Please, don’t get the interpretation that I’m putting him in the category of Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary, and Brian Urlacher, because I’m not. I’m just simply saying that McClellin’s tenure in the Windy City could have possibly been much more pleasant under those circumstances.
I’m positive that McClellin won’t be missed like Forte will be. But now that he knows what type of player he is in the league, I’m sure that I can speak for all Bears fans when I say that we hope that McClellin joins a team where he can finally become the player that we know he can be.