General Manager Phil Emery announced Thursday that cornerback Tim Jennings and guard Matt Slauson have both signed four-year deals with the team that will keep them from hitting free agency in March. With those three deals and the previous signing of kicker Robbie Gould, the Bears have elected to keep several of the impending free agents that populated their roster in 2013.
Cornerback Charles Tillman is another one of those players and Jennings’ deal could wind up impacting Tillman’s chances of sticking with the Bears. Jennings is almost three years younger than Tillman, who missed half the season with a torn triceps, and the Bears will only have so much money to spend at any one position.
Emery said Jennings’ deal was about “rewarding excellence” for a player who has gone to a Pro Bowl and been named second-team All-Pro during his four years in Chicago. Jennings started all 16 games this season and finished with 57 tackles, four interceptions and two interception returns for touchdowns. Jennings has 13 picks and three scores over the last two seasons and will likely be the top corner in Chicago next year if Tillman moves on.
Slauson was signed to a one-year deal before last season as part of the Bears’ effort to fix their frequently ineffective offensive line. Emery praised Slauson as a “key part” of the unit’s improvement in 2013, which was enough for the team to commit to him for the long term.