Chicago will shift Tait to left tackle

Updated: March 7, 2005, 8:50 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears signed free agent tackle Fred Miller on Monday, trying to bolster an offensive line that allowed a franchise-record 66 sacks last season.

 Fred Miller
Miller

Miller, a 6-foot-7, 320-pound nine-year veteran, played in every game for the Tennessee Titans the last five seasons at right tackle. He played for St. Louis from 1996-99.

ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli reported that Miller's five-year contract is worth $22.5 million. The deal includes a signing bonus of $6 million and base salaries of $1 million (2005), $1 million (2006), $3 million (2007), $4 million (2008) and $4 million (2009). There is a $2 million roster bonus that is due next March and roster bonuses of $500,000 for each of the final three years. The veteran blocker can earn a total of about $500,000 more in workout bonuses.

Miller was a salary cap casualty with Tennessee, which cut him last month so he wouldn't count $9.32 million against the team's cap in 2005.

The Bears added All-Pro wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad last month, signing him to a six-year deal.

Adding Miller will allow the Bears to move starting right tackle John Tait to left tackle, a problem position for the team last year.

"As we said going into free agency, we wanted to obviously address what we felt our needs were," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said Monday. "We targeted offense and we wanted to continue to build and add to that offensive group."

St. Louis drafted Miller in the fifth round in 1996. He has not missed a start since his 1998 season with the Rams and helped pave the way for five 1,000-yard rushers over those seven years.

"[Bears fans] can expect a guy that's going to go out there and play full speed, going to run around and try to block guys all over the field, not just at the line of scrimmage but downfield," Miller said Monday at a news conference.

"I'm a guy that's going to get nasty, sometimes a little too nasty where I've been known to get a couple of personal fouls and some fines by the league."

The signing gives the Bears a largely veteran offensive line that includes seven-year veteran Tait, eight-year veteran center Olin Kreutz and 11-year veteran left guard Ruben Brown.

Miller, who also had a chance to sign with New Orleans, said he thinks the experienced offensive line can help lead to a rapid turnaround from the Bears, who were 5-11 season last year.

"I was with the Rams organization when we were 4-12 -- absolutely horrible -- and I think we had the worst odds to win the Super Bowl the next year and we did," he said. "And that's what I see in this organization, that we can turn this around within a year and win some football games and get into the playoffs."

The Bears are still in the market for a backup quarterback.

Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Fiedler arrived in Chicago Monday night for a visit that will last into Tuesday. Former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson is scheduled to visit Thursday.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.