GREEN BAY, Wis. — After 26 starts over the past two seasons with the Green Bay Packers, safety M.D. Jennings is heading to the division-rival Chicago Bears.
The Bears’ official Twitter account announced that Chicago had signed Jennings to a one-year contract.
Jennings entered this offseason as a restricted free agent, but the Packers opted not to tender him. That left Jennings open to sign with any team, and the Bears were quick to get him on board.
Jennings’ departure ensures that Green Bay will enter the 2014 season with a different group of starting safeties. This past season, the Packers’ safeties failed to record a single interception and frequently struggled in coverage.
Despite a down year, Morgan Burnett will be back in Green Bay’s starting lineup next season. Burnett has fours left on a $24.75 million extension that he signed last offseason.
The current in-house options for the Packers to replace Jennings at safety are Sean Richardson and Chris Banjo, though coach Mike McCarthy mentioned during the NFL Scouting Combine that nickel defensive back Micah Hyde could also make a position switch.
Green Bay could still possibly sign a free-agent safety, but all of the top choices (Jairus Byrd, T.J. Ward, Donte Whitner, Mike Mitchell) have signed with other teams. That likely leads to the Packers using their first-round pick (No. 21 overall) in the upcoming May draft on either Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Louisville’s Calvin Pryor, whichever of them is available at that time.