Late Sunday night, the Bears announced the re-signing of defensive tackle Nate Collins and quarterback Jordan Palmer to one-year contracts. They've now become the 11th and 12th players general manager Phil Emery has re-signed from his own pool of free agents before the NFL open signing period starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
With Collins back after tearing his ACL in Week 5 and Palmer also in the fold, the domino effect leads to even greater uncertainty surrounding whether Henry Melton and Josh McCown will re-sign with the team. It will be a curious market for Melton after he suffered the same injury as Collins two weeks prior, in the wake of his Pro Bowl season in 2012.
Emery inked Jeremiah Ratliff to a two-year deal last week. Ratliff and Collins join Stephen Paea on the current defensive tackle depth chart, and in all likelihood, a high draft choice will be added to the mix. With all that the numbers for a Melton return don't seen to add up.
McCown's stock rose appreciably following his 2013 campaign in which he threw for 13 touchdowns and one interception and posted a 109.0 passer rating as Jay Cutler's fill-in. Emery might already realize that with the salary-cap space he has and the market for McCown (who other teams could allow to compete for a starting job), his safest bet is to bring back Palmer, hoping head coach Marc Trestman can work the same kind of backup magic as he did with McCown this past season.
Collins is a four-year veteran who played well as Melton slowly worked his way back into shape from a preseason concussion, then started in Melton's place for a game and a half before his own misfortune.
When Cutler was injured in Week 7 at Washington, Palmer was brought back (after being a final-day cutdown victim in training camp) and was in uniform for the final nine games but did not play.