9:28 p.m. CDT, March 9, 2014
Defensive tackle Nate Collins and quarterback Jordan Palmer will be back with the Chicago Bears in 2014.
The team announced Sunday night that both players have re-signed one-year deals to stick around, agreeing to terms before hitting the open market of free agency on Tuesday.
Collins, 26, played in five games for the Bears last season, credited by team stats with 13 tackles and a sack before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in a Week 5 home loss to the Saints.
Collins joined the Bears in 2012 after spending his first two seasons in the league with the Jaguars. He is the second defensive tackle to re-sign with the organization in the past week after Jeremiah Ratliff agreed to a new two-year contract on Wednesday.
Palmer will also return on a one-year deal. He spent training camp with the Bears in 2013, was released before the start of the regular season but then rejoined the club in late-October after starting quarterback Jay Cutler tore a groin muscle. Palmer remained on the roster through season’s end but did not see action in any of the team’s final nine games.
The re-signing of Collins doesn’t figure to impact the Bears’ ongoing negotiations with fellow defensive tackle Henry Melton, who suffered his own season-ending ACL tear last September. Melton is one of the few top-tier defensive tackles that could hit the open market Tuesday. Bears general manager Phil Emery has been on record with hopes that the organization can keep Melton and Melton has voiced similar wishes. But predictably, interest from other teams materialized this weekend and may impact the negotiations between the two sides.
Palmer’s signing, meanwhile, doesn’t necessarily position him to be Cutler’s back-up. Josh McCown may still occupy that role in 2014, a scenario the veteran quarterback hopes will play out when his contract officially expires Tuesday. But as much as McCown wants to remain in Chicago and the Bears want to keep him, the quarterback’s true market value may complicate matters for Emery and the front office in getting a new deal done to the liking of both sides.
McCown, whose 2013 contract prohibits him from re-signing with the Bears until 3 p.m. Tuesday, is scheduled to make several appearances on ESPN programming on Monday.
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