Bears’ general manager Ryan Pace has been awfully busy this week with depth signings.
On Friday, the Bears announced the addition of cornerback Alan Ball on a one-year deal. He fits the bill as a nickelback in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense and is another nice veteran piece along with 32-year-old safety Antrel Rolle.
Ball, who turns 30 in two days, only started seven games in 2014 before suffering a season-ending biceps injury against Cleveland in Week 7.
He has made 44 starts in 93 appearances in eight NFL seasons between Dallas, Houston and Jacksonville.
The Illinois product has 216 tackles, six interceptions, three forced fumbles and 34 pass deflections in that time.
Ball spent his first five seasons with Dallas, where he made 21 starts, three interceptions and 14 pass deflections.
He started off as a free safety making 19 starts from 2009-10 with the Cowboys before moving to corner in 2011.
Then in 2012, he signed a one-year, veteran minimum deal with Houston where he made one start at cornerback. Ball inked a two-year, $1.67 million deal the following off-season with Jacksonville.
He made 22 starts in two seasons for the Jaguars and had a successful 2013 campaign with 15 starts, which includes two interceptions and a career-high 14 pass breakups.
The former seventh-round pick had reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year, $2 million deal with Carolina on March 19, but the signing never panned out.
At 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, Ball is a nice piece behind starter Kyle Fuller and possible No. 2 or nickelback behind Tim Jennings. Ball pointed out Fangio and secondary coach Ed Donatell as big reasons why he decided to choose the Bears.
“I just see opportunity in a new defense that is coming in,” Ball said via the Tribune. “I’ve watched Vic’s defense in the past and what he does for his players and the situations he puts them in. You’ve got to be excited about that. I think Donatell does a good job with players as well and John Fox, know matter who you ask, they say the same thing about him as a head coach. I like the whole situation with those guys after being around them and (general manager) Ryan Pace. It’s good energy and it is something to be excited about.”
In New Orleans, Pace helped draft two big corners in Stanley Jean-Baptiste (6-3) and Brian Dixon (6-0), so size is important in the eyes of Pace and Fangio at the position.
Youngsters Demontre Hurst and Al Louis-Jean both saw extensive playing time last season and should be able to earn roster spots.
The Bears could opt to use Ball as an outside corner and move the smaller framed Jennings inside in nickel situations.
Ball marks the fourth player signed by the Bears this week joining defensive ends Jarvis Jenkins, Ray McDonald and linebacker Mason Foster on one-year deals. In total, the Bears have added nine new players this off-season.
All of these additions take pressure off having to draft rather high at defensive end, inside linebacker and cornerback. The Bears still need to get younger in the secondary, but the signing of Ball should make the draft process a little smoother.
Pace is doing a great job this off-season being patient and finding solid veterans to bring into the fold.
Thoughts on the signing of cornerback Alan Ball?
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