Willie Young didn’t like the ‘outside linebacker’ label last season, his first in a 3-4 defense, but he thrived in the second half and is now reportedly in line for a new contract.
Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reported the two sides are in talks for a two-year extension. Young is entering the final year of a three-year contract he signed in 2014.
Young led the Bears in sacks in his first season in ’14, playing end in the 4-3 defense, before an Achilles tear ended his season in Week 16. In addition to recovering from the injury, Young had to get acclimated to a new scheme in Vic Fangio's defense. He was a healthy scratch in Week Three last season against Seattle before starting in Weeks Five and Six.
Between Weeks 11 and 15, Young notched a sack in every game, collecting 5.5 total in the five-game stretch. He finished the season with 6.5 sacks and one interception.
Young is due to make $2.5 million in 2016 — a bargain for a player with 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons, and the Bears have the cap room to make it happen. The 6-4, 251-pounder turns 31 in September.
The Bears did draft a pass-rushing outside linebacker in Leonard Floyd with the No. 9 pick, but Pernell McPhee’s versatility to move inside in the nickel means the Bears need two edge rushers on passing downs. They also still have Lamarr Houston, who led the team with eight sacks last season and is signed through 2018.