Bears, Nick Roach agree on 2-year deal

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears agreed to terms with free agent linebacker Nick Roach on a two-year deal. The deal is worth approximately $4 million, according to an NFL source.

The Bears were eager to retain Roach, a versatile and athletic linebacker who made 30 starts over the past three seasons. The club informed Roach they wanted to keep him in Chicago during the early hours of the official free agency negotiating period at the beginning of the week.

According to another league source, the Bears' preference at the onset of free agency was for Roach to remain in the role of quality backup linebacker and special teams ace, but the team failed to land a player in free agency they viewed as an upgrade.

Bears head coach Lovie Smith emphatically stated Friday that Roach is now the team's unquestioned starting strong side linebacker.

"Nick Roach has just done everything we have asked him to do," Smith said. "We've asked him to fill a lot of roles. Nick Roach is a starting linebacker for us. Nick Roach is our starting SAM linebacker. We're just pumped up he decided to come back with us."

Roach set career highs in tackles (82), sacks (2), forced fumbles (3) and tackles for a loss (10) in 2009 when he started 15 games at strong side and middle linebacker.

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.