BOCA RATON, Fla. – As good as the Bears’ moves in free agency look this year, it’s important to point out safety Antrel Rolle’s 2015 season. It provides perspective.
Rolle was signed to a three-year, $11.25 million contract, including $4.9 million guaranteed in the first year, and made only seven starts last season.
A high-ankle sprain and a sprained knee ligament limited Rolle. He was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 14. It was a break from the norm for Rolle, who went five consecutive seasons without missing a game before joining the Bears.
Rolle’s production also wasn’t the best when he was active. He made 45 tackles (per coach reviews) and broke up just one pass.
All of the above made Rolle, 33, an interesting case for the Bears to study this offseason.
“It was a difficult evaluation on him because of the injury,” general manager Ryan Pace said during the NFL owners meetings at the Boca Raton Resort. “It’s hard to pinpoint exactly the evaluation on him with him being injured, but we were satisfied.”
Coach John Fox isn’t sure what to expect from Rolle until players return for the offseason program on April 18.
“These guys go away and they’re not in your eyesight for a while and it’s always interesting to see how they come back,” Fox said. “And you can just tell right away: This guy’s grinding.
“Obviously, Antrel is one of our more veteran players, brought great leadership to our defensive team when he was available. Even when he wasn’t available, he was always there with his experience. So we’ll see where that goes going forward. I’ve been told he’s working out very hard. We’ll see.”
From Lovie Smith to Brian Urlacher to Lance Briggs, George McCaskey’s run as Bears chairman has featured some notable goodbyes.
Running back Matt Forte was the latest. He signed with the Jets after eight seasons with the Bears.
“As a fan you know you hate to see him go,” McCaskey said. “He’s been such a big part of what we’ve been doing over the last eight seasons. He’s an outstanding example to his teammates both on and off the field. He has an outstanding work ethic, production as a running back, as a receiver out of the backfield, as somebody who isn’t afraid to stick his nose in there and help out on pass protection. He’s just a pro’s pro and we wish him the best.”
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