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Jerrell Freeman signs three-year deal with Bears

The renovation of Chicago's defense continues.

The Bears announced Saturday that they have agreed to terms with former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman on a three-year contract. The new agreement calls for $12 million with $6 million guaranteed and another $2 million available in incentives, reported NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, per a source involved in the deal.

Freeman will join newly signed Danny Trevathan as the starters at inside linebacker, providing a substantial upgrade on the 2015 tandem of Christian Jones and Shea McClellin.

A former CFL star with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Freeman became the first player from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor to play in the NFL when he signed with the Colts as an immediate starter in 2012.

He started 57 games over four years in Indianapolis, peaking in 2015 as the most effective player and second-leading tackler on Chuck Pagano's defense.

Freeman finished the season with Pro Football Focus' top run-defense grade among linebackers.

Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's linebacker corps figures to be perhaps the league's most improved this season. Edge rusher Pernell McPhee turned in a Pro Bowl-caliber season in his first year with the Bears. The right outside-linebacker duo of Willie Young and Lamarr Houston exceeded expectations last season as well.

General manager Ryan Pace has done a commendable job of overhauling the roster to suit Fangio's 3-4 scheme after years in the 4-3 alignment under Lovie Smith and Mel Tucker.

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