D.J. Williams: What to Expect from New Chicago Bears LB in 2013

Ryan DavenportContributor IMarch 22, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Marcel Reece #45 of the Oakland Raiders gets past D.J. Williams #55 of the Denver Broncos for a touchdown at O.co Coliseum on November 6, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With the face of the franchise officially gone, the Chicago Bears made the team's first move toward replacing the recently departed Brian Urlacher as linebacker. 

After parting ways with Urlacher earlier this week, the Bears signed longtime Denver Bronco D.J. Williams to a one-year contract (via USAToday.com): 

The deal, first reported by the Chicago Tribune, carries a $900,000 base salary with up to $850,000 in incentives, Williams told USA TODAY Sports' Lindsay Jones in a text message Friday.

Williams, 30, was scheduled to make $6 million with the Broncos next season before he was released. His turbulent 2012 included two suspensions: six games for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing drugs, and three games for an August conviction for driving while impaired.

Despite Williams well-documented issues off the field, the former Miami Hurricane does bring a reasonably impressive pedigree to the Bears defense, but the move to Chicago could come with an adjustment period. 

That's because Williams is reportedly being asked to play middle linebacker, something he hasn't done in more than five seasons. 

What is encouraging, though, is that Williams' best NFL season came as a middle linebacker under Mike Shanahan, and he actually lead the AFC in combined tackles that year.

With that in mind, given his familiarity with the position, it shouldn't be too long before he's adjusted to both a new position, as well as a new defensive scheme entirely. 

D.J. Williams will not replace Brian Urlacher, but he's not being asked to. All the Bears want out of him is more than 100 tackles and a stopgap until they decide what to do next at middle linebacker.