Jerrell Freeman

Former Bears' linebacker Jerrell Freeman announces retirement, cites health behind reasoning

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USA TODAY

Former Bears' linebacker Jerrell Freeman announces retirement, cites health behind reasoning

Former Bears' inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman is hanging up his cleats.

Freeman, 32, played in parts of six NFL seasons, most recently with the Bears from 2016-17. Originally an undrafted free agent in 2008, Freeman played in the CFL from 2009-2011 before signing with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012. 

The Bears signed Freeman to a three-year contract in March 2016, though he played in just 12 games that season before getting suspended for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Despite the suspension, Freeman still led the team in tackles.

2017 was far less kind to the 6-foot, 235 pound linebacker. Freeman tore his pectoral muscle in the Bears' first game of the 2017 season. A month later, the NFL suspended him 10 games for violating the league's performance enhancing substance policy again.

Freeman cited treatment for head injuries for the reason behind his second suspension. While the Bears released him in February, he recognized the second suspension might effectively end his NFL career. 

 

Bears get younger, net more cap savings in releasing Pernell McPhee and Quintin Demps

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USA Today

Bears get younger, net more cap savings in releasing Pernell McPhee and Quintin Demps

The Bears continued shedding veterans and netting cap savings on Monday, with the team announcing the releases of linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Quintin Demps.

Those two cuts come on the heels of the Bears last week releasing guard Josh Sitton and linebacker Jerrell Freeman. All told, those four moves garner the Bears about $21 million in cap savings; the expected release of quarterback Mike Glennon will produce $11.5 million more in cap savings, per Spotrac, and if the Bears release Markus Wheaton and Marcus Cooper, that’d save another $9.5 million. 

But in releasing two more veterans — Demps, like Sitton and Freeman, was a captain; McPhee was regarded as a good locker room guy, too — the Bears are continuing to get younger, too. 

Adrian Amos’ emergence as a solid player (maybe not an elite one, as some outside evaluations have pegged him as) made Demps an unlikely candidate to return as an expensive backup. Demps missed all but three games in 2017 due to a fractured forearm, and regrettably for him, his most notable moment was getting stiff-armed by Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper on an 88-yard touchdown in Week 1. 

McPhee’s production never matched the five-year, $38.75 million contract he signed in 2015, which was Ryan Pace’s first big splash as general manager. McPhee played in 36 of the Bears’ 48 games his three years in Chicago, only starting 17 of those and recording 14 sacks. He’ll be 30 in December, and despite being a positive presence at Halas Hall, his play didn’t match the near-$8 million cap number attached to him for 2018. The Bears could certainly look to draft an edge rusher with the No. 8 pick in April's NFL Draft. 

While Sitton wasn’t one of Pace’s free agent misses, McPhee, Freeman and Demps fall into that category (as do Glennon, Wheaton and Cooper). The Bears could wind up cutting ties with all of those busts, giving Pace plenty of money to spend on second contracts for Eddie Goldman and, possibly, Amos, as well as in this year’s free agent market. It’s now on Pace to make sure he hits on more of his free agent targets than he has in the past while nailing an important draft to build out the roster around a franchise quarterback and a first-year coach. 

“Free agency is high risk, and we understand that,” Pace said on New Year’s Day. “I think with free agency you have to be very disciplined during that time period, and I think we have been in regards to how we’ve structured a lot of these contracts. I think that’s helped. But I think as we continue to build more through the draft, we can continue to be a little more selective in free agency. There have been some hits. We talk about (Danny) Trevathan and (Akiem) Hicks. And there have been some misses too. That’s on me. We need to get better in that area, and we will get better in that area. But primarily our goal, as you know, is build through the draft and develop those players.”

Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman got suspended — again — and admits his career may be over

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USA TODAY

Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman got suspended — again — and admits his career may be over

Yes, you read that right.

For the second time in a calendar year, Bears veteran linebacker Jerrell Freeman was suspended for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances.

Freeman — who is on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle — will be suspended 10 games starting immediately.

He was suspended Nov. 21, 2016 for four games for the same violation.

Freeman released a statement on Twitter, acknowledging his career may be over due to a head injury that he has been dealing with:


"I hate to say I'm sorry again but I am sorry. I've been on IR all year and you try and stay out of sight, but sorry for the distracton. I had been lying to friends, family, and loved ones when it came to the question of "Are you OK?". Knowing my career may be over due everything that came with the head injury (that's been purposely downplayed by me), memory loss and all, has actually been a bit of a struggle. That being said there's no excuse to cope with any problems by taking any kind of pills. I don't know my future but a big thanks to the Bears and the NFL, if I would have used their programs and services earlier than I did I wouldn't be in this situation. Sorry again for the distraction."

The 31-year-old Freeman signed a three-year, $12 million contract prior to the 2016 Bears season and was named one of the team's captains this fall. He has recorded 120 tackles over 13 games over two years and appeared in just one game in 2017.