Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch feels strongly that, by coming to the Bears on a one-year deal, he’s in the perfect place to resurrect a career that has fallen on hard times.
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Lynch signed a one-year deal with the Bears after spending his first four years with the 49ers, who drafted him in the fifth round out of South Florida in 2014. As a rookie, Lynch had six sacks as a situational pass rusher in the defensive scheme of Vic Fangio, who is now the Bears’ defensive coordinator, which was a key reason for Lynch’s decision.
Lynch had 6½ sacks in 2015, when he started 13 games, and his two-year totals included 22 tackles for loss, 35 quarterback hits and seven pass breakups. But in the past two years, he’s played only 14 games with a total of 2½ sacks.
But reuniting with Fangio could be just what Lynch needs to become the pass rusher he was. Having only turned 25 last week, he could make it work with his new team and his old coach on a deal that could pay him up to $6 million.
“He was a huge part of my rookie year,” Lynch said of Fangio. “He was a great mentor to me. He was a great figure in my life. He was huge for me.
“It’s a perfect position for me to be in [now]. It was an important position for me, to be with somebody familiar like Vic. He’s the one that gave me a chance early in my career, and I did pretty well, succeeded pretty well and our defense [did, too]. To rejuvenate my career and play on this team is going to be fun.”
The past two years, including a four-game suspension in 2016 for violating the league’s policy on substances of abuse, were not fun for Lynch.
“I’ve had some ups and downs the last two years, so I want to get back on the right track,” he said. “There’s no better place to start this out than with the Chicago Bears, with [coach Matt] Nagy and [general manager Ryan] Pace and Vic’s defense. I’m going to bring, as far as skill set, a person who loves to compete. I saw myself as a pretty good pass rusher that can stop the run, and I know this defense because I’ve played in it. I’m bringing someone who has the background to be in this defense. I know what I’m doing.”
With the addition of Lynch, the Bears took another step toward rebuilding their depth chart at outside linebacker and augmenting their pass rush. They released veteran outside linebackers Willie Young and Pernell McPhee late last month. The Bears re-signed Sam Acho on Wednesday, but that left him and Leonard Floyd as the only outside linebackers on the roster with significant NFL experience – until they brought in Lynch, who says he learned some hard lessons the past two years.
“It definitely humbles you,” he said. “It was a humbling state for me in my life – not being able to play the game that you love and played for your whole time growing up. It really humbled me and made me attack things differently now.”
Kansas City QB pipeline: The Bears on Friday added No. 3 quarterback Tyler Bray, another backup with experience in coach Matt Nagy’s offense from their five seasons together in Kansas City.
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Bray is an unknown commodity as a player, since he has thrown only one pass, an incompletion, in his career and played only four snaps. But he is a strong-armed pocket passer who has the arm to make all the throws but has limited mobility. Bray was undrafted in 2013 out of Tennessee after going 13-11 in 24 starts over three uneven seasons. He spent the 2014 season on injured reserve and all of 2015 on the non-football-injury list with a torn ACL.
Two days before signing the 26-year-old Bray, the Bears officially signed former Chiefs backup QB Chase Daniel, 31, to play the same role behind starter Mitch Trubisky.
Back for more: The Bears also re-signed tight end Daniel Brown, a restricted free agent who became unrestricted when he was not tendered a contract before the start of free agency.
The 6-foot-5, 243-pound three-year veteran spent the previous two seasons with the Bears, playing in 22 games and starting five times when the offense opened with multiple tight ends. As a Bear, Brown has 29 receptions for 253 yards (8.7-yard average) and