CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears have signed controversial free-agent defensive end Ray McDonald to a contract, the team announced Tuesday.
The Bears and McDonald agreed to terms on a one-year deal, pending a physical.
McDonald’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers, released him in December after law enforcement officials said he was under investigation on suspicion of sexual assault, ESPN reported.
McDonald has not been charged in the case, according to ESPN.
Social media reactions to the signing were strong, with many opposing McDonald’s signing due to the player’s checkered past.
Absolutely despicable. What a disgrace. RT @chicagotribune: Bears appear set to sign former 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald.
— Carson Cornelius (@carsoncornelius) March 24, 2015
Not a fan of McDonald signing. Football only, it's great. But I'll have a tough time cheering for him until he apologizes for his problems.
— Johnathan Wood (@Johnathan_Wood1) March 24, 2015
Not a fan of signing Ray McDonald. Ugh, I know second chances, blah, blah, blah but this is a different time. #Bears
— Sam Householder (@SamHouseholder) March 24, 2015
The 49ers previously said they had “terminated” McDonald for what they deemed a “pattern of poor decision-making,” ESPN reported. He was reportedly also involved in a domestic abuse case last August, but did not face any charges then, either. The team at that time stood by McDonald.
The Bears had previously traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall, a move in part due to the team’s desire to distance itself from players with character concerns, the Chicago Tribune’s Dan Weiderer notes.
However columnist David Haugh of the Tribune said McDonald was like the 49ers’ version of Marshall — “only worse.”
So reports say #Bears will sign a player in Ray McDonald who 49ers let go because they had had enough — their Brandon Marshall, only worse.
— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) March 24, 2015
McDonald had started for the 49ers the past four seasons. He has collected 19.5 sacks and four forced fumbles over his eight-year NFL career.
McDonald said in an interview with ESPN last week,
“I feel like what I am doing is the right thing because I know that I am not this bad person that people are making me out to be. I’ve been fired from my job. I know some teams don’t even want to talk to me because of this past accusation. All I am trying to do is clear my name and move on with my life.”
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) March 24, 2015