Bears decline to tender RFA DT Collins

CHICAGO – The Chicago Bears have informed restricted free agent defensive tackle Nate Collins they will not tender him before the March 12 3 p.m. CT deadline, Collins told ESPNChicago.com on Saturday.

Collins, the Bears’ lone restricted free agent, participated in nine games last season as a reserve defensive lineman and recorded 13 tackles and one tackle for a loss.

A veteran of three NFL seasons, Collins signed a one-year contract with the Bears this past May. He made a positive impression on the coaching staff in the preseason and eventually earned a spot on the Bears’ 53-man roster after he served a one-game suspension in Week 1 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Once he officially rejoined the team in Week 2, Collins remained inactive until Oct. 28, when he made five tackles in his Bears debut – versus the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field.

Collins dressed for the next eight games but was inactive for the Bears' regular-season finale in Detroit.

Money might have been the issue for Collins after the Bears allocated $8.45 million in salary-cap space to the defensive tackle position when they applied the franchise tag to Pro Bowler Henry Melton. The 2013 low tender amount for restricted free agents is $1.323 million, although that deal is not guaranteed. The Bears could still have interest in re-signing Collins, but likely at a reduced price.

Collins previously played for new Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker when the two were members of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization in 2010 and 2011.