Updates from Wednesday, March 12
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune breaks down the financial terms of Jay Ratliff's new deal with the Chicago Bears:
#Bears DT Jeremiah Ratliff $4 mil, 2 yr contract, $855K base in 14, $600K roster bonus. $45K workout bonus, $250K roster bonus all in '14— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 13, 2014
So in summary $3.75 million base value for Ratliff, $4 million max value. Cap figure of $1.578 million for this season.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 13, 2014
The Chicago Bears agreed to a two-year contract with defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff on Wednesday, fortifying depth in the trenches at a position of dire need.
News of the new deal surfaced from the Bears' official Twitter account:
LM: #Bears have agreed to terms with veteran DT Jeremiah Ratliff on 2-year contract.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 6, 2014
Ratliff made four consecutive Pro Bowls from 2008 through 2011 and was an All-Pro in 2009—all as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Injuries have unfortunately plagued the 32-year-old veteran in recent seasons, and it led to his release from America's Team in October 2013.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport noted how Ratliff is reunited with his former Dallas defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni with the Bears and how he enjoys the new environment:
Would be surprised if it’s a huge deal for Bears & Ratliff. He re-joins Paul Pasqualoni (DL coach) from Dallas. Loved the Bears & city.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 6, 2014
But there was a silver lining to be had for Ratliff thereafter. Chicago suffered a slew of injuries on the defensive line and were desperate for bodies in the rotation, leading to general manager Phil Emery taking a flier on Ratliff later in the year.
In five games for the Bears this past season, Ratliff managed 1.5 sacks and nine combined tackles. Now that a two-year contract is in place, it seems Chicago is expecting him to be a significant contributor in 2014 and beyond. That notion is fortified by the fact that the Bears didn't allow Ratliff to test the waters as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, which he would have been absent this new contract on March 11.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune mentioned what the Bears felt Ratliff has brought to the gridiron and the locker room with his presence in his brief stint with the team to date:
I know #Bears felt Jeremiah Ratliff brought real level of toughness and professionalism to line during 5 games at end of season.— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 6, 2014
Standout offensive lineman Kyle Long was pleased to hear of the news that Ratliff was retained:
We've got Jay Rat back... That is one bad man!— Kyle Long (@Ky1eLong) March 6, 2014
There seems to be an effort made by Emery and Co. to lock up several members of the current core of players in Chicago. As the team's official Twitter account highlights, the Bears have signed the most to-be free agents in the league over the past several months:
LM: Since late December, #Bears have signed 10 players who were slated to become unrestricted FAs, most in NFL.— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 6, 2014
What do you think of the Bears' move to re-sign Jay Ratliff
That makes some sense, since the team was so close to winning the NFC North division and hosting a playoff game before losing the Week 17 finale to the rival Green Bay Packers. In the second year under head coach Marc Trestman, it's conceivable that the Bears could make a similar, if not better and ultimately successful, push for the postseason.
Part of that effort will depend on Chicago's ability to defend and complement a high-octane, balanced offense. The Bears were last in the NFL versus the run in 2013—an area that Ratliff should be able to help.
Ratliff is more known for his ability as a pass-rusher from the interior, capable of collapsing the pocket as well as blowing up running plays between the tackles. With unique athleticism and quickness for his size, few defenders command a double-team as often as Ratliff when he's fully healthy.
It remains to be seen whether or not Ratliff can return to his Pro Bowl level, but that's something the Bears are at least holding out hope for as a possibility. Defensive tackles Henry Melton and Corey Wootton are unrestricted free agents, and Nate Collins is a restricted free agent, so re-signing Ratliff was a savvy move by the Bears to secure at least one talented player at the position.