With Michael Bennett re-signing in Seattle and Michael Johnson heading to Tampa Bay, the Chicago Bears turned their attention to ex-Raider DE Lamarr Houston. The two sides agreed Tuesday to a five-year deal Tuesday worth $35 million, with a reported $15 million guaranteed, according to the Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs.
Those numbers are comparable to Bennett's deal -- four years, $28.5 million, $16 million guaranteed; Johnson's contract reportedly earned him five years, nearly $44 million and $24 million guaranteed.
Given the early market at the DE/edge-rusher spot, the Bears appear to have done fairly well for themselves here in landing the versatile 26-year-old Houston. He recorded 16.5 sacks over his four seasons with the Raiders, six of them coming last year. In Chicago, he'll either pair with Julius Peppers as a dangerous two-headed DE tandem or take over for Peppers should the Bears opt to chop Peppers' massive contract off their books.
The latter possibility seems more likely at this point. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that the Bears were trying to trade Peppers, whose cap number sits just north of $18 million for the year. Chicago would save $9.8 million by trading or releasing Peppers.
That may be a story for another day. Right now, the focus is on Houston, who should upgrade the Bears' disappointing pass rush. Grade: B-plus. What the Bears do from here with Peppers and the rest of their available cash may dictate just how successful this move is. Regardless of Peppers' status, though, Houston was one of the top edge players available in free agency and Chicago scored him for what looks like a reasonable cost.