Bears add James Anderson to linebacker corps
The 29-year-old James Anderson spent his entire career with the Carolina Panthers, who selected him out of Virginia Tech in the third round of the 2008 NFL draft. James Anderson developed into a full-time starter for the Carolina Panthers in 2010, starting 55 career games mostly at strong side (44 games), although he remained a versatile linebacker starting at weak side (8 games) and middle (one start) when needed.
In 94 career games for the Carolina Panthers (most by a linebacker in the franchise), James Anderson amassed 454 tackles, eight sacks, three interceptions, seven fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles and 19 pass break ups in his seven-year NFL career.
James Anderson had three years left on a five-year, $22 million contract he signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2011, but was cut in a salary cap move. The Carolina Panthers saved $3 million in cap room through his release.
James Anderson started 12 games last season, while missing the final four due to back injury. He finished with the third-most tackles on the team, while also setting a single-game franchise record in the Week 3 loss to New York Giants with 30 tackles last season.
Though he isn’t a big signing, James Anderson is only over two years removed from arguably the best season of his career when he recorded 130 tackles, 3 ½ sacks, one interception, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 2010.
James Anderson is expected to fill in at strong linebacker Nick Roach signed with the Oakland Raiders during free agency. Earlier Friday, the Chicago Bears made their first free agency addition to the linebacker corps by signing long-time Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams to a one-year contract. He replaces Brian Urlacher as middle linebacker after the Chicago Bears announced Urlacher will not return in 2013. Chicago Bears six-year veteran linebacker Geno Hayes was also lost to free agency. Lance Briggs is the only returning starting linebacker for the Chicago Bears; who is expected to play at weak side.
The Chicago Bears are still expected to add depth to their linebacker corps through the draft to string some young talent along with its veteran pieces. Lance Briggs is 32 while D.J. Williams will turn 32 before the start of training camp.