Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor Signed as Bears Move Quickly in Free Agency

Bob Warja@@bobwarjaSenior Writer IMarch 5, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27: Julius Peppers #90 of the Carolina Panthers against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

In a desperate attempt to save their own jobs, Bears coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo have apparently brought two more free agents into the fold today, joining tight end Brandon Manumaleuna , who signed earlier today.

Defensive end Julius Peppers and running back Chester Taylor were in Chicago today to have their physicals taken in anticipation of both joining the Bears on a day like any other in Halas Hall history.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Peppers signing is "imminent," while ESPN reported the signing of Taylor earlier in the day.

With a healthy Brian Urlacher and Peppers' signing, the Bears' defense is expected to make an immediate improvement. With the signing, Alex Brown and his six sacks move to the right side to allow Peppers and his 10.5 sacks to retain his usual position at left end.

Though he's a solid player, with Brown's lack of pass-rushing skills, teams will be able to double-team Peppers, so this signing makes it even more critical that Tommie Harris and Urlacher are healthy and productive.

Peppers, meanwhile, is said to take plays off occasionally. He doesn't have the high motor of a Jared Allen, for instance but he's a terrific physical specimen who, at 30, hasn't lost his speed or explosiveness.

Hopefully he will maintain his motivation and competitive fire despite the huge contract, said to include $40 million in guaranteed money over the first three years of the six year deal.

Meanwhile, Taylor signed a four-year, $12.5 million deal, with $7 million guaranteed up front. He is 31 and has played in parts of eight seasons, but they haven't been hard years since he has split time with other backs during his tenure with the Vikings and Ravens.

In fact, 2006 was the only season in which Taylor was a starter, averaging 4.0 yards in 303 rushing attempts that season. Most recently, he has backed up Adrian Peterson in Minnesota.

More importantly, he can catch passes out of the backfield, a quality that new offensive coordinator Mike Martz covets in his backs.

While Taylor has averaged as much as a 5.4 rushing average (in 2007), his average yards per carry has been declining ever since. His 3.6 average last year was identical to Matt Forte.

These signings signal a historic day in Bears history and mark the second consecutive season in which the team starts off with a huge buzz.

Last year, it was the trade that brought in QB Jay Cutler to the Bears that elicited excitement. But the question is, are they done? What about the safety position?

Darren Sharper and Antrel Rolle are out there, though the Giants appear to be the favorites to land Rolle, who wants $8 million per season. The former Arizona safety just turned 28 in December.

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