Bears sign ex-Broncos linebacker Williams

Bears sign ex-Broncos linebacker Williams

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Bears appear to be starting life after Brian Urlacher.

The Bears reached a one-year deal with former Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams on Friday, two days after cutting off negotiations with Urlacher.

"We are happy to welcome D.J. to the Bears and are excited to start working with him," Bears General Manager Phil Emery said. "We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at (middle) linebacker."

Williams, 30, was released by the Broncos after a tumultuous season which saw him miss nine games due to suspensions for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, and for his second arrest for drunk driving.

"This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension for part of the 2012 season," Emery said.

The 6-foot-1, 242-pound Williams was selected 17th overall by Denver in the 2004 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami (FL). He lead the AFC in tackles in 2007 with 141 combined tackles. He also started five of six postseason games for the Broncos, recording 32 tackles, three pass break ups and a half sack.

Emery says the addition of Williams gives the team options with the 20th pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

"He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft," Emery said.

Williams started 115 of 127 games in nine seasons with Denver where he started at the weakside, inside, strongside and middle linebacker positions. He recorded 816 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 13 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries, 38 pass break ups and two interceptions. His 816 tackles are 10th in the NFL since 2004 and he is one of five players to record 800 tackles and 20 sacks since entering the NFL.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Williams will earn a base salary of $900,000, but can earn up to $1.75 million in a workout bonus and roster bonuses. None of his salary is guaranteed.

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