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NFL: Bears tab potential Urlacher successor in vet Williams

Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013 1:05 a.m. CST
Wesley Woodyard (52) celebrates a fumble recovery by then-fellow Denver Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams during an 18-15 victory Oct. 23, 2011 in Miami. The Bears and Williams agreed to a 1-year deal Friday.

CHICAGO – The Bears have their potential successor to Brian Urlacher.

Chicago signed former Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams to a 1-year deal, 2 days after cutting off talks with Urlacher.

Williams, 30, was cut by the Broncos after a season in which he faced two suspensions – a six-game suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing policy, and a three-game suspension for his second arrest for driving under the influence.

Williams, 6-foot-1, 242 pounds, is a productive player with speed who had the second-most tackles in the NFL in 2007.  He was a first round pick in 2004.

“This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career,” general manager Phil Emery said. “We see a player that has very good athletic upside who can contribute immediately at ‘Mike’ [middle] linebacker. He is also a versatile player who has played both outside linebacker positions, giving us flexibility in the draft.”

The Bears have the 20th pick.

The contract Williams signed gives the Bears protection. His base salary is $900,000, none of it guaranteed.  He can earn $1.75 million, if he hits a workout bonus and a series of roster bonuses.

Williams was scheduled to make $6 million from the Broncos.

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