Throw another safety into the competition to start for the Bears next year, and this one comes from inside the division.
The Bears signed former Packers free safety M.D. Jennings to a one-year contract on Wednesday.
Jennings started all 16 games for Green Bay last season and made 74 tackles, one sack and one pass defensed. He played in all 16 games with 10 starts in ’12, notching 52 tackles, two passes defensed and an interception he returned 72 yards for a touchdown.
"Versatility, he’s a little bit more experienced in terms of the back end than he is the front end," Phil Emery said Wednesday. "He’s a lighter player, he’s got good range, has good coverage skills. The number of starts and experience that he has and he’s been a good special teams player."
In 2011, Jennings joined the Packers as an undrafted rookie. He appeared in 15 games.
Jennings was a restricted free agent and the Packers decided not to tender him. He ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 67th-ranked safety with a grade of -6.5 on the season.
On Tuesday, the Bears signed strong safety Ryan Mundy.
The Bears continued to address their needs at safety by stockpiling players with some starting credentials but less than outstanding reviews by adding M.D. Jennings. Jennings was given a chance to start at free safety for the Packers last year but disappointed and was not in Green Bay's plans going forward. At 6-0, 187 pounds, Jennings is not particularly strong against the run but was expected to be more effective in coverage than he was for the Packers last season.
He is best known for his role in the Packers Monday night game vs. the Seahawks on September 24, 2012 during the NFL officials strike when he intercepted Russell Wilson's Hail mary attempt at the end of the game but a replacement official incorrectly ruled that Golden Tate had caught the ball for Seattle, giving the Seahawks the victory.
Jennings arrival in Chicago is most likely more about depth and competition than any likelihood he'll claim a starting spot, and he should be viewed more as a replacement for Craig Stelz and Anthony Walters than potential competition for Chris Conte. Jennings is a strong special teams contributor and will need to earn a spot there to stick with the Bears. In his Wednesday press conference, Phil Emery stated that the Bears are not done addressng the safety position, quite possible through both free agency and the draft.