NFL free agency begins today at 4 PM ET, and the Bears just prevented one of their own free agents from reaching the market.

The Bears and cornerback Tim Jennings have agreed to terms on a two-year contract. It's unknown at the moment the amount of money Jennings will be paid, but it's unlikely to be anything substantial.

The 28-year-old (29 in December) Jennings signed with the Bears prior to the 2010 season, after spending his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts (second round pick in 2006). He became a surprise starter in that season for the Bears, and in total, started 28 games over the last two seasons. He played in all 32 games over the two seasons.

In 2011, Jennings intercepted two passes, deflected 10 passes, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble, had four stuffs, and 77 tackles.

The outstanding website Pro Football Focus had this to say about Jennings on Twitter:

Tim Jennings was one of just 2 starting CBs not to allow a TD. Perfect fit for Bears cover 2
The 5'8", 185-pounder won't wow you, but he's fundamentally solid, physical, and a very good tackler for the cornerback position, something the Bears look for in their defense much more than most teams do.

The Bears will go into camp expecting Jennings to again be the starting cornerback opposite Peanut Tillman, and you can now count them out of the running for free agent cornerbacks like Cortland Finnegan. With that in mind, and with he Bears going for a "cheaper" starting option at cornerback, I fully expect them to target one of the top pass-rushing defensive ends on the market, such as Mario Williams, Jeremy Mincey, and Kamerion Wimbley (assumed he's released by the Raiders).

Stay tuned.

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Bears release DT Anthony Adams & OL Frank Omiyale

Posted by Matt Clapp | 3/01/2012 02:39:00 PM

Veteran defensive tackle Anthony Adams said on Sunday that the Bears told him he would be released, and today that became official. What was not known was that offensive lineman Frank Omiyale would also be released, which also happened today.

Adams has had a fine nine-year (four with the 49ers, last five with the Bears) NFL career as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He's particularly been a very good run-stopper, and was one of the more vocal, respected players on the Bears; the quintessential "locker room leader".

But the writing's been on the wall for Adams. His play declined in 2011, and he was inactive for five games down the stretch. At 32 (when the season starts), his skills are not going to suddenly improve.

Additionally, the Bears already have Henry Melton(just 25 and had seven sacks in '11), Matt Toeaina (27 and improving), and Stephen Paea (Bears' second round pick in '11) at defensive tackle. They also hope to re-sign Amobi Okoye (turns just 25 in June and had four sacks in '11), and the upcoming draft is absolutely loaded with quality defensive tackle prospects. The Bears are always looking to get better at defensive tackle since the position is crucial to the success of their cover-2 defense (look what Tommie Harris did for the defense in their NFC Champion season), and opens up space for Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs to roam.

So, since Adams was likely going to be far down on the Bears' 2012 depth chart, is not getting any younger, and opens up the Bears approximately $2 million in cap space, the release makes a ton of sense.

As for Omiyale, well, he was arguably the worst player on the entire roster (it was probably Caleb Hanie, but Omiyale was close). While he offered versatility by being able to play both tackle and guard as a Bear, he did neither particularly well (especially at tackle in '11).

The 29-year-old signed with the Bears in free agency in 2009 after being a career backup for the Carolina Panthers. He ended up starting 31 games between guard and tackle in his three seasons with the Bears.

The Omiyale cut saves the Bears $1.35 in cap space.

Here's what Phil Emery had to say about making his first cuts as the Bears' general manager:
"Cuts are never easy, but are a part of the evaluation process. We appreciate all that Anthony and Frank gave the Bears organization both on and off the field during their time in Chicago. We wish them the best moving forward."
Sources: Chicago Tribune; ESPN Chicago

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