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Free Agent Breakdown: Bears Sign Safety M.D. Jennings

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M.D. Jennings, left. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

M.D. Jennings, left. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge-

What happened: The Bears signed safety M.D. Jennings to a one-year contract Wednesday. Jennings started all 16 games for the Packers last year.

How it affects the Bears’ salary cap: Jennings, 25, likely came fairly cheap considering he was a restricted free agent who wasn’t tendered by the Packers.

How Jennings fits the system: This is probably the guy who will compete with Chris Conte at free safety, but he’s not necessarily a sure thing to win the job. Jennings only has one interception in 47 career games and struggles in pass coverage from time to time. According to STATS, Jennings was the targeted defender on passes 21 times last season and allowed 17 completions for 280 yards and six touchdowns. He was only credited with one pass defended. By comparison, Chris Conte was targeted 38 times and allowed 19 completions for 417 yards and five touchdowns. He was credited with seven passes defended. That stat only measures passes actually thrown in a player’s direction and it may be a good sign that less passes were directed Jennings’ way, although Conte played 100 more snaps than Jennings did last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

What’s ahead: The Bears now have five safeties on the roster, but the group is still underwhelming even with the signings of Jennings and Ryan Mundy. An addition through the draft would make a lot of sense. The Bears still need a starting cornerback, too.

How this affects the Bears’ NFL Draft plan: The added depth might mean the Bears don’t address safety in the first round, but it doesn’t rule it out either. Help is still needed at the position.

Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

 

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