As the 2014 NFL free agency period opened at 4 p.m. EST today, the Chicago Bears didn’t wait very long to get started. Similarly to last year with the signings of Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett early in the FA process, the Bears made a big splash signing former Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston.
Houston played as an end in the Raiders’ 3-4 defensive scheme, but the 6-foot-3, 300-pound lineman will transition extremely well to the three-technique in the Bears’ 4-3, while also leaving the possibility of a switch to a 3-4 in the future open.
The 26-year-old was reportedly signed to a five-year, $35 million contract. The amount of guaranteed money hasn’t been announced yet, but I’d speculate it’s probably somewhere around $18-20 million for that size of a deal.
This move effectively means that Henry Melton will not be re-signed at any point and the Bears will move on from him as he tore his ACL early in the 2013 campaign. An added benefit is that Houston, whose deal averages around $7 million per year, is coming to Chicago at a cheaper price than they would’ve gotten Melton a year ago if they didn’t franchise him, and instead offered the DT a multi-year deal.
Houston is entering the fifth season of his career and has put up very good numbers so far while not missing a single game to injury. He’s registered 228 tackles, 16 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception thus far, with his two most productive years being 2012 and 2013. In those two campaigns, he put up 138 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles.
This move is only the first of what should be a very busy free-agency period for the Bears. To keep up with the latest details and moves, make sure to follow me at my social media sites below, specifically on Twitter.