Before the Bears’ run defense fell apart, middle linebacker D.J. Williams was making a positive impact, and he will be back next season.
Williams and the Bears agreed on a one-year deal, the team confirmed Tuesday afternoon. In 2014, Williams had 27 tackles, two sacks and four TFLs before tearing his pectoral muscle against the Giants in Week Six.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Williams' contract is worth up to $1.5 million for 2014 with a $100,000 signing bonus.
Following the season, Williams expressed his interest in returning to Chicago after spending the first nine seasons in the league with the Broncos. Williams, who will turn 32 in July, has experience in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.
GM Phil Emery spoke highly of Williams multiple times after the season, saying at the Combine, “[We] saw a guy that has legitimately very good burst. Saw a player that has good instincts, gets around the ball and plays with a relentless style.”
With Jon Bostic slated to compete to start at strong-side linebacker, Williams should enter the summer as the starter in the middle, thought he Bears will likely still look for a younger player, either in the draft or free agency, at inside linebacker.
As I believe I wrote several weeks ago here, the D.J. Williams signing is a great move by the Bears. He was looking like a really nice fit with Lance Briggs before he got hurt last year and even though he's 32, he's played less than half a season each of the last two years and should have at least one more big push left in him. Not only does Williams shore up the run defense in the middle, he adds athleticism to the defense in general. The Williams and Jeremiah Ratliff signings may not make the Bears' defense younger, but it definitely makes it better. It also helps by freeing up Shea McClellin and Jonathan Bostic to compete for the SAM linebacker spot, forcing the best out of each of them and creating nice depth from which ever player finishes second.