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Chicago Bears Make Big Early Push in NFL Free Agency

Posted on March 05, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers

Reports say that the Bears have landed the first big free agent of 2010 in Julius Peppers.

According to a number of reports, the Chicago Bears have landed the first huge fish of the NFL free agent period with the signing of former Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers to a six year contract.

Considered by many to be the brightest star in a less than stellar free agent year, Peppers should provide an immediate boost to a Bears defense that has been in decline in recent years.

The second overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft, Peppers is a five-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time first team All-Pro.

In 2009 he registered 10.5 sacks and two interceptions for the Panthers. He has reached double figures in sacks in six of his eight seasons in the NFL and has 81 for his career.

A year ago the Bears lost their leading defensive player, linebacker Brian Urlacher, to injury in the opening game of the season and never fully recovered.

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The Bears finished 21st in the NFL in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed in 2009. They have been in the bottom half in the league in points allowed in each of the three seasons since finishing second in the league in that category and reaching the Super Bowl in 2006.

Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye led the Bears with 6.5 sacks in 2009. The other defensive end, Alex Brown, had six sacks a year ago.

The 30-year old Brown, who was selected in the fourth round of the same NFL draft as Peppers, has never had more than seven sacks in any of his eight NFL seasons. Ogunleye will be 33-years old in 2010 and has not had a double digit sack season since 2005.

Peppers recently turned 30 and could be re-energized in 2010 following his move from the Panthers, a team he has talked about leaving for a number of years. It also will be interesting to see how the North Carolina native and former North Carolina Tar Heel responds to playing football for a team not located in North Carolina.

With the signing of Peppers, running back Chester Taylor and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, the Bears are the clear early leaders in the free agent sweepstakes.

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