The Chicago Bears have been interested in former Buccaneers linebacker Mason Foster since the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. The four-year veteran hit free agency two weeks ago and almost immediately entered into negotiations with Bears brass.
Two weeks later, the two sides have finally come to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal are still unknown.
Foster (6-1, 241) is a former 2011 undrafted free agent who has been the full-time starter in Tampa Bay since his rookie year. In 54 starts, Foster has accumulated 343 combined tackles, 6.0 sacks, 12 pass breakups, five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, and four forced fumbles. He ran a 4.75 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
Foster played MIKE linebacker in Tampa's 4-3 defense and will transition to one of two middle linebacker spots in Chicago's new 3-4 system.
Make no mistake, Foster is not an elite linebacker. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, he has not received a positive grade against the run or pass in any of his four NFL seasons.
His biggest appeal is his age (26) and upside under coordinator Vic Fangio. He's still a developing linebacker the Bears believe they can mold into a quality starter.
Foster will surely slide into a starting role alongside Jon Bostic, who is the only other first-team inside linebacker on the roster.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.