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Jerrell Freeman signs with Chicago Bears, who get a bargain deal

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Former Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman has signed with the Chicago Bears.

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Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman has officially signed with the Chicago Bears.  According to NFL Media's Rand Getlin, it is a three-year deal worth $12 million, with $6 million guaranteed and $2 million in incentives.

The Bears have now added both Danny Trevathon and Jerrell Freeman to play an important role in Vic Fangio's defense, two good moves for the franchise.  And getting Freeman on a deal that averages just $4 million per season is an absolute bargain in the current free agent market, where we've seen record deals and a number of players overpaid.

Freeman spent four years in Indianapolis, starting 57 games and recording 478 tackles, 12 sacks, 16 passes defensed, four interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), eight forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries.  He was terrific in 2015, and was in fact ranked as the second-best inside linebacker in the league last year by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.

The Colts have now lost three starters this offseason, but the loss of Freeman is easily the most impactful and the most puzzling.  Freeman wanted a nice payday this offseason, as he's been playing for cheap for the past four seasons and will turn 30 years old this offseason, but a three-year, $12 million deal is a steal for the Bears.  It leads to the question, then, of what exactly the Colts were offering Freeman.  They seemed to have their offer set and weren't budging from it, but were they really unwilling to pay him $4 million a year?  According to Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson, the Colts actually offered the same deal before free agency that the Bears did, which makes this move even more interesting.  Ultimately, however, it is inconceivable how the Colts could simply let one of their best defenders walk for such a cheap contract.

Good for Freeman getting paid and going to a team that values him, but this seems, from the early indications, to be a scenario botched by the Colts.  If Freeman had signed for huge money, that would be one thing, but in this market, $4 million per year for a good linebacker is a steal - a move the Colts, for whatever reason, didn't want to make.  Now, they'll have D'Qwell Jackson (who, by the way, they signed to a four-year deal averaging $5.5 million per season when he was the same age as Freeman) and someone else starting at inside linebacker.  Nate Irving would seem to be the favorite at this point, but the team could also choose to address the position through the draft.  Whatever the case, this free agency period for the Colts has so far created more holes and question marks than it has filled.