The five-day window teams have to exclusively negotiate with their own players for futures/reserve contracts has ended, meaning the Bears can begin shopping elsewhere. Futures contracts are essentially what teams use to retain the services of players who were on the practice squad whose contracts expire at the end of each season. It’s what the players allocated to NFL Europe used to sign before the developmental league went belly up.
The Bears had hoped to sign cornerback Greg Fassitt to such a deal, but he is believed to be checking out what other offers could be available after spending the season on the practice squad. With starting corners Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher recently signing longterm extensions, and with veteran Ricky Manning Jr. and draft picks Trumaine McBride and Corey Graham blocking him, it only makes sense.
Defensive tackle Matt Toeaina and linebacker Nick Roach were two players the Bears targeted from elsewhere and wound up signing off practice squads during the season. Roach was signed away from San Diego in mid-November, arriving in time to receive an accrued season toward free agency.
Roach stood out in the final three games on special teams and is expected to take a prominent role next season if he doesn’t battle for the weak-side linebacker spot with Lance Briggs expected to leave in free agency. He’s intelligent and he uses his hands well to shed blocks and could push Jamar Williams with a strong spring.
Toeaina wasted no time getting acclimated as he played in the final three games, getting action at Minnesota Dec. 17 just days after coming over from Cincinnati.
The Bears have already signed guards Matt Jones and Tyler Reed, safety Leonard Peters and running back P.J. Pope to futures deals.