Bears sign Wootton; Basanez waived
"It feels good to be able to sign the contract and be a part of the Bears," Wootton told the team's official website. "I'm excited for everything that entails. It's good to get it out of the way and just be able to focus on football. So now it's strictly football from here on out."
Financial term of the agreement weren't disclosed.
MARTZ TAKES PASS ON RUNNING
Lovie Smith insists the Bears' running mentality will continue with new coordinator Mike Martz, but his teams historically have run the ball much less than the rest of the NFL.
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In other news, the club waived backup quarterback Brett Basanez, who was set to enter his second season with the Bears.
A fourth-round pick, Wootton becomes the third of five Bears' picks to sign with the team, joining seventh-round offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb, who signed a four-year contract on Sunday, and fifth-round cornerback Joshua Moore, who inked a deal on Tuesday.
The 109th overall selection in the draft last month, Wootton likely received a deal similar to the one signed last year by Green Bay Packers offensive tackle T.J. Lang -- the 109th pick in 2009 -- who received a four-year contract worth $2.25 million that included $502,500 guaranteed.
It could turn out that Wootton becomes somewhat of a bargain for the Bears. Prior to a knee injury at the 2008 Alamo Bowl, Wootton was projected by some as a first-round pick, after a junior season in which he produced 10 sacks. According to reports, a neck injury also caused Wootton's stock to plunge even more.
Wootton started 49 of 53 games at Northwestern, posting 156 tackles, 19.5 sacks, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. In addition, Wootton blocked four kicks.
Basanez appeared to become expendable when the club used a sixth-round pick last month to draft LeFevour, a record-setting quarterback from Central Michigan. Basanez spent the first 15 games on Chicago's practice squad, before the Bears promoted him to the active roster for the final game.
A Northwestern product and Arlington Heights native, Basanez came into the league in 2006 as an undrafted free agent with the Carolina Panthers. Basanez saw action in one outing as a rookie in 2006, completing six of 11 passes for 56 yards and an interception. He missed the 2007 season due to a preseason wrist injury, and spent all of 2008 on Carolina's practice squad.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.