The Bears addressed one of their biggest positions of need six days before free agency by re-signing defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff on Wednesday evening.
Ratliff agreed to a two-year contract, having clearly impressed Phil Emery, Marc Trestman and Mel Tucker in his five games late last season. Ratliff had 14.5 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one tackle for loss. Terms of the contract have not been disclosed.
The nine-year veteran spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Cowboys. He played in only six games in 2012 in Dallas and was released last October because of hamstring and groin injuries.
During his time in Dallas, Ratliff mainly played nose tackle in the 3-4 defense. His versatility will be an asset for a Bears defense that is expected to employ multiple fronts in 2014 with new defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni, who knows Ratliff well.
Pasqualoni was the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator and defensive line coach in 2010. He also coached Dallas’ linebackers in 2006-07, Ratliff’s second and third seasons in the NFL.
In a 2010 interview, Ratliff said of Pasqualoni: “He’s so intense. And one of the things that makes him a great coach is it’s almost like he’s not a coach just here. He lives it. He’s almost legendary.”
Tucker said in December that Ratliff, “brings some energy to that group and a veteran presence, so he’s fitting in nicely.”
Ratliff, who turns 33 in August, joins Stephen Paea as the two defensive tackles under contract for 2014. Henry Melton and Nate Collins are set to hit free agency on March 11.
The Bears have already re-signed 10 players who had expiring contracts, the most of any team in the NFL. Melton headlines the group of free-agents-to-be, along with Corey Wootton, Charles Tillman and Josh McCown.