3:12pm: McDonald’s contract is a one-year, prove-it deal, according to Bears GM Ryan Pace (Twitter link via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times).
12:55pm: After agreeing to terms with Jarvis Jenkins earlier today, the Bears are poised to bring aboard another free agent defensive lineman, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the team is signing former 49er Ray McDonald.
McDonald, 30, was released by the Niners prior to the conclusion of the 2014 season due to what general manager Trent Baalke called a “pattern of poor decision-making.” The veteran defensive lineman never faced legal charges, but was the subject of multiple allegations in apparent domestic violence incidents.
The Santa Clara district attorney’s office decided in November not to file charges against McDonald in his first alleged domestic violence case due to insufficient evidence. The 49ers allowed McDonald to continue to play following that earlier incident, citing due process, and the former third-round pick played well — according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), McDonald was the league’s 12th-best 3-4 defensive end in 2014, grading well both against the run and as a pass rusher.
After McDonald’s second incident, during which he was identified as a suspect in a possible sexual assault investigation, the Niners had simply had enough, and made the decision to cut ties with him. According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (via Twitter), that investigation is ongoing, though McDonald’s agent has told teams his client will be cleared.
By signing with Chicago, McDonald will reunite with his old defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who made the move from the 49ers to the Bears this offseason. Having played a 4-3 defense last year, the Bears are transitioning to a 3-4 system under Fangio, and are in the process of adding players who will fit that scheme. Both McDonald, who previously played under Fangio, and Jenkins, who played for a 3-4 defense in Washington, fit that bill.
While there’s no doubt that McDonald can make an impact on the field, his off-field issues figure to be a concern for the Bears. The former Florida Gator may not face any charges for last year’s incidents, but the league could still complete its own investigation and decide to suspend him. Presumably, John Fox and the Bears are confident they can keep McDonald out of trouble going forward.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.