Posted by Matt Clapp | 3/14/2013 04:43:00 PM | Henry Melton, Mel Tucker, Nate Collins, Phil Emery, Stephen Paea
On Saturday, it was reported that the Bears chose to not tender restricted free agent defensive tackle Nate Collins at the price of $1.323 million.
The move was a bit surprising, as $1.323 million isn't a lot of money (in the NFL world) to pay a defensive tackle that really showed some promise in his nine games with the Bears last year, and is still just 25 (and doesn't turn 26 until December). Additionally, the Bears' defensive tackle depth was a concern with only Henry Melton and Stephen Paea under contract (keep in mind that they released Matt Toeaina yesterday, too).
But, in the end, it all worked out quite well for the Bears, as today they signed Collins to the league minimum price of $715,000 (so, just over half the price they would've paid him with the restricted free agent tender). It's unknown if the Bears knew that they'd be able to get Collins to agree to a deal at that price, and if they didn't, their gamble certainly paid off. The team is dealing with a very limited cap space after the Martellus Bennett and Jermon Bushrod deals, so every penny they can save is meaningful right now.
Collins had 11 tackles and one pass defended for the Bears in 2012, but his presence was noticeable as a backup defensive tackle. He's 6'2", 296, and has quality athleticism for his size. He looks like he can be a solid two-way (defending the pass and run) defensive tackle, and may push Stephen Paea for a starting spot at some point. Whatever the case, he's quality depth at a position the Bears greatly needed depth.
Collins played for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010 and 2011, so he has experience playing for new Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as well.
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