The Bears re-signed two key reserves for 2014 on Sunday evening, defensive tackle Nate Collins and quarterback Jordan Palmer. Both players signed one-year deals.
Collins, 26, had 13 tackles, one sack and three QB hits before tearing his ACL in Week Six. He spent his first two NFL seasons with Mel Tucker and the Jaguars.
With Collins back in the fold, the Bears have Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea and Collins at D-tackle before free agency begins on Tuesday. Henry Melton is set to test the market.
Collins showed a nice burst off the ball and an ability to get into the backfield last season. He seemed primed for a career year starting for Melton before he suffered his knee injury. At his age, Collins could set himself up for a multi-year contract offer if he can stay healthy and be productive in 2014.
Palmer, 29, did not play in a regular-season game, but completed 11-of-17 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown in the preseason finale. He spent the last nine weeks of the season on the active roster after Jay Cutler got injured.
The decision to re-sign Palmer shouldn’t have an impact on Josh McCown, who will be a free agent on Tuesday afternoon. The Bears like having three quarterbacks, and Palmer likely signed a minimum-salary deal. If McCown is not brought back, Marc Trestman knows he has someone who understands the playbook in Palmer to be in the quarterback room.