After previously appearing as if he was on track to sign with the Panthers, free agent cornerback Alan Ball has opted instead for another NFC team. The Bears announced today (via Twitter) that they’ve brought Ball into the fold, signing him to a one-year contract.
Ball, who turns 30 next month, spent the last two seasons in Jacksonville, and was quietly one of the best parts of the Jaguars’ secondary. In 2013, Ball recorded a +7.5 Pro Football Focus grade in over 1,000 snaps, ranking 22nd among 110 qualified cornerbacks (subscription required). His 2014 season was cut short by a biceps injury, which landed him on injured reserve after seven games, but he still held his own in the first half of the season, recording 22 tackles and an interception.
For the Bears, Ball will provide depth and some veteran experience for a secondary that also features cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Kyle Fuller. Chicago has been very active this offseason fortifying its defense with free agent additions, having also added Pernell McPhee, Antrel Rolle, Mason Foster, and Jarvis Jenkins.
Terms of Ball’s contract with the Bears aren’t yet known, but the Panthers had been offering him a one-year, $2MM deal, so I’d be surprised if Chicago’s offer was worth less than that.