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Bears sign veteran linebacker James Anderson to one-year deal

CarolinPanthers outside linebacker James Anders(50) reacts after an interceptiduring first quarter an NFL football game against Detroit Lions Detroit Sunday

Carolina Panthers outside linebacker James Anderson (50) reacts after an interception during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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Q & A with new Bears linebacker James Anderson
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Updated: March 25, 2013 12:10PM

The Bears continue to move fast in retooling their linebacker corps.

Two days after signing longtime Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams, the Bears locked in veteran James Anderson, who has spent the last seven seasons with the Carolina Panthers, to a one-year deal.

Williams is projected to take over at middle linebacker after the Bears’ divorce from Brian Urlacher. Anderson will be slotted in on the strong side, taking over for Nick Roach, who left for the Oakland Raiders.

General manager Phil Emery also gains even more flexibility for the draft. With Williams and Anderson signed, there’s no longer a pressing need to draft a potential starter at linebacker with the 20th pick. Emery can take the best available player regardless of position or trade down, which he said he’s open to doing. The Bears have to get younger overall, and they only have five picks.

In Anderson, 29, the Bears get a solid performer who set Carolina’s single-season record for tackles in 2011. He’s coming off a back injury that cost him the last four games of 2012. He has started 53 games, including 44 on the strong side, in seven seasons with the Panthers.

A third-round pick in 2006 out of Virginia Tech, Anderson has 432 tackles, eight sacks, seven fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, three interceptions and 20 pass breakups in his career.

Anderson became expendable because of the emergence of Luke Kuechly and the long-term contracts of outside linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis, who are expected to be healthy.

Anderson had signed a five-year, $22 million deal in 2011, and the Panthers still have some of that on their books for next season.

“Any day, anybody’s number could be up. Next year it could be someone else,” Anderson told the Charlotte News & Observer after he was cut this month. “I don’t think they’re doubting the fact that I could play and can continue to be a productive player. It was just one of those moves.”

Unlike Williams, who is coming off a suspension-filled 2012, Anderson doesn’t have any character issues.

Off the field, Anderson is very active in the community. In 2012, he was the winner of the Tom Berry Good Guy Award, which is presented by the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. It honors the player most helpful to the media.

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