CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 09: Jeremiah Ratliff #96 of the Chicago Bears rushes against Ronald Leary #65 of the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Cowboys 45-28. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jeremiah Ratliff; Ronald Leary
Updated: March 5, 2014 10:18PM
When Jeremiah Ratliff signed with the Bears as a free agent in November, he did so out of comfort — with the team’s system and its expectations of him.
That same rationale led him to sign a two-year contract, keeping him at defensive tackle in the Bears’ base 4-3 scheme.
The Bears’ offseason addition of his mentor with the Cowboys, defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni, only made the fit better for the 6-4, 303-pounder.
Terms of the deal weren’t available late Wednesday night, but Ratliff, 32, preferred comfort to testing the market for perhaps more money.
He’s the 10th potential unrestricted free agent signed by the Bears this offseason, the most in the NFL.
The four-time Pro Bowl selection played five games with the Bears, starting four, after rehabbing a groin injury that kept him off the field for about a year. He had 1½ sacks and 14½ tackles.
The Bears liked Ratliff’s toughness and deemed him a key piece to rebuilding a defensive line that allowed the most rushing yards in the NFL last season.
Three other defensive tackles — Henry Melton, Corey Wootton and Nate Collins — are eligible for free agency Tuesday.
The Bears began clearing salary-cap space by releasing punter Adam Podlesh.
He was set to have a salary-cap hit of $1.8 million; the Bears are still responsible for $800,000 of dead money.
General manager Phil Emery seemed to foretell the release at the NFL Scouting Combine two weeks ago, when he declared the punter competition wide open. The Bears have Tress Way and Drew Butler under contract.
In his third year with the Bears, Podlesh, 30, struggled, averaging 37.9 yards per punt and causing the team to hold midseason tryouts for a second consecutive season.