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Tim Jennings signs four-year deal with Bears

Chicago Bears' Tim Jennings during Thursday's game against the New York Giants October 10, 2013 at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Sarah Nader - snader@shawmedia.com )

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LAKE FOREST — The most consistent player on the Bears’ defense – one of only a few positives – will be in Chicago through 2017.

Tim Jennings signed a four-year contract with the Bears, Phil Emery announced Thursday.

“I told him when I got here he's one of my favorite players that I've ever scouted,” Emery said. “I've always been very impressed with his athletic suddenness, his competitive fire and the energy that he brings along with a key thing - he's a playmaker.”

Jennings played in all 16 games in 2013, missing only 10 snaps. He made 57 tackles, 13 passes defensed and four interceptions. His Pro Football Focus grade of +0.3 was the highest on the Bears’ defense.

“It was fairly easy on my part. Chicago gave me an opportunity that teams wouldn’t when I was a free agent deciding to come here [in 2010],” Jennings said. “I think it was a no-brainer just to know what they’re capable of doing on the offensive side of the ball. Now we’ve got to do some things on the defensive side. So I wanted to be a part of that and be excited about what’s to come here.”

Of all the defensive players up for a new contract, Jennings was the first to get rewarded.

“My agent did a great job of keeping me outta the loop. I just wanted to focus on football, focus on the year, continue to stay healthy and help this team win as much as I can,” he said. “I’m blessed for it to happen the way it did, and for me not having to see what was out there again. That was no question — if I had the opportunity to stay here and they wanted me, then it was a no-brainer.”

Jennings turned 30 on Christmas Eve and stepped up in Tillman’s absence, helping shut down Dez Bryant and Josh Gordon in wins over the Cowboys and Browns.

“Signing Tim to me is about rewarding excellence, and he has had that,” Emery said. “I can't tell you enough about the energy he brings, the positive upbeat style.”