The Chicago Bears agreed Friday to a one-year contract with former Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams, a possible replacement for Brian Urlacher.
The deal comes two days after the Bears said they couldn't reach an agreement with Urlacher, the eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the heart and face of the franchise. They also have an opening at strong side linebacker after Nick Roach signed with Oakland.
Williams gets a fresh start after missing time last season because of suspensions.
"This is a great opportunity for D.J. to restart his career after coming off suspension for part of the 2012 season," general manager Phil Emery said.
Williams has played both middle and outside linebacker. He missed nine games while serving a pair of NFL-mandated suspensions last season and was released by the Broncos on the eve of free agency, freeing up his $6 million salary.
Ravens will start season on the road
Consider this a rare example of the NFL not getting its way.
Instead of celebrating their Super Bowl title with a game at their home stadium, the Baltimore Ravens will start the 2013 regular season on the road, because Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles wouldn't budge.
The NFL likes to have its reigning champion open a season at home and wanted to have the Ravens play in Baltimore at night on Thursday, Sept. 5. But with the Orioles already set to host the Chicago White Sox next door at 7:05 p.m. ET on that date, and the leagues and teams unable to reach a compromise, the NFL announced Friday the Ravens will have to play somewhere else.
The Ravens and Orioles play at adjacent stadiums and share a parking lot, so they avoid playing at the same time because of traffic problems.
Safety Reed officially signs with Texans
Ed Reed knew right from the start of free agency that he wanted to play for the Texans and that his days in Baltimore were over.
The nine-time Pro Bowl safety signed a three-year, $15 million contract with Houston on Friday, adding championship experience to the Texans' defense and leaving the reigning Super Bowl champions without yet another of their cornerstone players.
"Eleven years is a great book," Reed said. "The way it ended, you can't write a better script. Eventually, we knew Baltimore had to make decisions and in the end, they made those decisions."
Reed said Texans general manager Rick Smith called him on the first day of free agency and the Texans were his first choice from that point on, calling Houston "a perfect fit."