Chicago Bears: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time

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Steve McMichael, Chicago Bears. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Steve McMichael, Chicago Bears. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Ted Washington, Chicago Bears
Ted Washington, Chicago Bears. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Getty Images /

14. player. 57. . DT. (2001-02). Ted Washington

In 2001, the Bears had the second-best run defense in the NFL giving up just 1,313 yards and six touchdowns on the season — while surrendering just 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. That was the biggest reason they won 13 games and finished atop their division. Much of their ability to stuff the run came courtesy of a big free agent signing that offseason. And by big, I mean really big.

During free agency, the Bears agreed to terms with nose tackle Ted Washington, who was listed at 6-foot-5 and 365 pounds. Before joining Chicago, Washington had spent time with the Buffalo Bills, the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers, who had drafted him with the No. 25 overall pick out of Louisville.

His best seasons came with the Bills, where he spent six of his 17 NFL seasons. In 1996, he was credited with 92 tackles and 3.5 sacks. His numbers started to dip after that, as he was used as a more traditional nose tackle. His job was to clog up lanes and make running the ball tough for the opposing offense. Washington did that incredibly well, which is why the Bears went after him in 2001.

At that time, Washington was 33 years old, so no one paid much attention to the move. Once he helped the defense excel, the big guy got the credit he deserved, as he was named to the only All-Pro team of his career. He also made his fourth trip to the Pro Bowl.

Unfortunately, Washington’s second season in The Windy City was marred by injuries. The Bears moved on from him, likely thinking that the durability concerns would continue due to his age.

They were wrong, as Washington continued to play through 2007 before retiring at the age of 40. He was also able to win a Super Bowl after the 2003 season as a member of the New England Patriots.