The thin Bears secondary just improved vastly on Wednesday with the signing of veteran safety Antrel Rolle.
Rolle, who was visiting with the Bears on Tuesday hammered out a three-year, $11.25 million deal with $5 million guaranteed late Wednesday, according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus.
A 10-year veteran, Rolle joins a Bears secondary that has been craving a real playmaker for quite some time. Now 32, he isn’t the same athlete that he was when he hit the free-agent market for the first time in 2010. But Rolle is a very steady safety.
Rolle has missed just one start over his last seven seasons and his nine interceptions are the third-most among safeties over the last two seasons.
The former 2005 No. 8 overall selection out of Miami, Rolle reunites with his former New York Giants teammate Ryan Mundy. Mundy signed a two-year, $3 million deal with the Bears last off-season and added a team-high 103 tackles and four interceptions in 2014
The two were a pair in New York for the 2013 season, when Rolle started all 16 games at strong safety and Mundy started nine at both free safety and cornerback.
Rolle joins Mundy as well as second-year man Brock Vereen and special teamer Anthony Walters as the current safeties under contracts with the Bears.
With a thin draft class at safety this year, adding a safety or two was a top priority for new general manager Ryan Pace. Even though, Rolle isn’t the same player that he once was, the three-time Pro Bowler (2009, 2010, 2013) brings invaluable experience to the Bears on the back end.
Pace said on Wednesday in a press conference with the Chicago media that the safety position is hard to evaluate.
“Instincts are such a high priority with the safety position,” the 37-year old general manager said. “So, instincts, ball skills, ability to tackle in space, those are things that jump out to me. But we want passionate football players. Guys that are physical, passionate football players.”
Rolle will certainly be counted on to be a leader like he was the past two seasons in New York as a team captain.
He has 26 interceptions, eight forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries in his 10 seasons in the NFL. His first five came in Arizona, where he was a cornerback up until the 2008 season.
He made a smooth transition to free safety and earned himself a nice payday in free agency with the Giants in 2010 becoming the highest safety in the league at the time.
Rolle reeled in a career-high and league-leading six interceptions in 2013. He projects as more of an in-the-box safety at this stage of his career and he played that role often last season, when he totaled 89 tackles and three interceptions.
He’s coming off a disappointing season where he was plagued with some bad whiffs on tackle attempts and a lack of many big plays.
According to Pro Football Focus, Rolle was tied for eighth among safeties with 17 missed tackles in 2014. He also finished with the sixth most yards allowed after the catch among safeties with 244.
The most glaring stat was that Rolle ranked 81st out of the 87 safeties who played 25 percent of defensive snaps in 2014 with an overall rating of -13.9. That mark was the second-worst mark of his career.
Considering Rolle’s deal is for just under $4 million per year over three seasons it is a reasonable deal for a player nearing the end of his NFL days.
Rolle recorded all three of his interceptions in 2014 over the first six games, but failed to record one in New York’s final 10 games. He still has what it takes to be a starter hence the contract.
Clearly the Bears aren’t concerned with Rolle’s deteriorating skills which were examined closely on a Giants defense that allowed the 10th most points per game (25) and fourth most YPG (375.8) in 2014.
He fits the mold of an aggressive safety which Bears’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio loves to have on his roster. The Bears seem to be close to add another safety to the mix in former Kansas Chiefs Ron Parker.
Yahoo Sports NFL Insider Rand Getlin reported this late Wednesday night.
A source says safety Ron Parker arrived in Chicago safe and sound. #Bears fans, big day tomorrow. This could be your guy.
— Rand Getlin (@Rand_Getlin) March 12, 2015
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