Bears add safety Earl to fill void

The Chicago Bears have added much-needed depth at the safety position, but had to dig into the past to fill the void.

Chicago has reached a contract agreement with free-agent safety Glenn Earl, who hasn't played in the NFL the past two seasons. Earl will sign a one-year contract, believed to be worth the veteran minimum salary of $620,000.

Once a promising defender, Earl had his career seemingly cut short in the final preseason game of 2007, when he suffered a Lisfranc injury of the foot. Earl was placed on injured reserve for 2007, and was released in 2008. He has not played in the NFL since then, but is healthy again now that the foot is healed, and he confirmed the agreement.

The Bears signed Earl, after he participated in the team's recent three-day minicamp. League rules allow a team to bring a player to camp for a three-day audition in the spring. Earl demonstrated that he is healthy again and can help the Chicago interior secondary.

The team released standout free safety Mike Brown at the outset of free agency. Chicago signed safety Josh Bullocks of New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent, and the four-year veteran is expected to compete for a starting job.

There are only four other safeties on the Chicago roster.

Earl, 27, likely will play on special teams, and as a nickel defender.

A four-year veteran, Earl was originally a fourth-round pick of Houston in the 2004 draft. The former Notre Dame standout provided size and play-making ability to the Texans' secondary before his injury. And in 2006, he had a career-high 74 tackles.

For his career, Earl has 153 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, and four passes defensed. He has 31 starts and has played in 37 games.

Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.