Dan Wiederer at the Chicago Tribune reports on the signing of new inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman.
Freeman is a good, under the radar signing of the type I expected the Bears to make. He’s a few years old than the usual Bears signing this year at 29, partly due to the fact that he started his career in the CFL.
The move signals the end for Shea McClellin at the position.
When McClellin was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft, many fans and media members called for him to play move to the linebacker spot but head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Phil Emery insisted that McClellin was a defensive end.
Eventually he was move to outside linebacker and, last year, to the inside where he seemed more comfortable. Unfortunately the move came too late and McClellin hit free agency as a player who has never been able to live up to his lofty draft status.
Watching Freeman play what sticks out is his mobility and effectiveness in pass coverage. A sideline-to-sideline middle linebacker with the Colts, Bears fans will be happy to see what Freeman brings to the table.
A pro scout from an AFC club offered his assessment of Freeman: “Undersized three-down ‘backer with above average athleticism, speed and was productive but he shows average strength and take-on ability. He’s a starter with limitations. Doesn’t wow you with splash plays but he is dependable and a stat sheet filler.”
To my great surprise, Pro Football Focus had Freeman with their top run defense grade amongst linebackers last year. It will be interesting to see if he’s more physical than expected inside once the season starts.
Freeman seemed happy with the stability that the Bears organization offered. “It was them being genuine,” he said. “… And it’s a real big thing that everybody’s on the same page, like-minded from top to bottom. It’s hard enough to win when everybody’s on the same page. It’s even harder when everybody’s not. So that’s a real good thing, too.”
The guess here is that will be a nice change from Indianapolis, which was something of a pit of contention between general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano. Here’s hoping both the Bears and the Freeman find more peace than they have in the past.