Lamarr Houston signs 5-year contract with Chicago Bears

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Houston provides the Bears with a four-down defensive end, who should help their deficient rush defense.

The Chicago Bears made the first step toward rebuilding their defense on Tuesday by reaching an agreement with former Oakland Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houstonaccording to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.

Houston, 26, has started 59 games in four seasons with the Raiders since he was selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. While his total of 16.5 career sacks is underwhelming, he has been a force in run defense and has steadily improved as a pass rusher throughout his career, tallying 41 quarterback hurries in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus.

Improved run defense is certainly something that will be welcomed for the Bears, as the team finished 2013 with the most rush yards allowed in the NFL. Opposing offenses averaged 5.3 yards per rush against Chicago, which set the tone for a defense that finished the year with the third-most yards and points allowed.

With only $8.2 million of cap space to work with, the Houston deal likely means the official departure of defensive end Julius Peppers, who was due to count more than $18 million against the cap in 2014. With the release of Peppers, the Bears would have about $8 million in dead money; however, the $10 million of free space will give the team some breathing room.

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