3:56pm: According to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link), Ratliff was escorted out of Halas Hall on Wednesday, and had an animated exchange with GM Ryan Pace. Pace said in a statement today that the move was “in the best interest” of the team (Twitter link via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune).
3:49pm: Having already traded two veteran defensive players since the 2015 season got underway, the Bears are making more changes on that side of the ball. According to Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter), Chicago has released defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff.
Ratliff, 34, was suspended for three games to open the season for violating the league’s policy and program for substances of abuse. However, after being re-added to the roster, he resumed his starting duties for the Bears, playing more than half of the team’s snaps over the last two weeks.
A year ago, Ratliff racked up 37 tackles and 6.5 sacks in just 11 games, grading as the league’s sixth-best defensive tackle – according to Pro Football Focus – despite playing fewer snaps than any other DT in the top 10. However, between injuries and suspensions, he hasn’t played a full season since 2011, and new Bears head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio may not have viewed him as an ideal fit for the club.
To replace Ratliff on the roster, the Bears have signed defensive tackle Ziggy Hood, the team announced today (via Twitter). Hood, who spent five years in Pittsburgh to begin his NFL career, was a Jaguar last season, appearing in all 16 games and recording 24 tackles to go along with a sack and a fumble recovery. He was removed from Jacksonville’s IR list earlier this week, making him a free agent.
The Bears have now jettisoned Ratliff, Jared Allen, and Jonathan Bostic in recent weeks, and also released Tim Jennings just a couple weeks before the regular season began. All four players started at least half of Chicago’s games in 2014.