After falling short in their pursuit of Michael Bennett, the Chicago Bears are turning Plan B into Plan A.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported minutes into Tuesday's free-agency launch that the Bears and defensive end Lamarr Houston agreed to a five-year, $35 million deal with $15 million in guarantees, according to a source. The organization later confirmed the move.
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Houston's arrival also ended the reign of Julius Peppers, who was released Tuesday after four seasons in Chicago.
Houston played at a Pro Bowl level for the Oakland Raiders this past season and gives Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker a moveable chess piece in Chicago's 4-3 scheme. Ranking fifth on Around The League's list of the top 101 free agents, the 26-year-old defender piled up six sacks in 2013 and ranked eighth in the NFL with 16 hits on the passer.
Houston's also a strong presence against the run, which looms as critical for a Bears team that finished last in that category this past season, allowing a league-worst 161.4 yards per game on the ground.
Chicago "pushed hard" for Houston after Bennett re-signed with Seattle. Landing the lineman as he enters his prime serves a double purpose for the Bears: Their rival, the Green Bay Packers, were said to be very interested in Houston, who now sets his sights on making life tough for Aaron Rodgers for years to come.
In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys study the free agency picture with the help of NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.