The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with cornerback Kelvin Hayden. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but it's reportedly for the league minimum, which is $825,000 for a seven-year veteran.
The Indianapolis Colts drafted Hayden (6-0, 195) in the second round (60th overall) of the 2005 draft. He played with the club until 2010, spending last year with the Atlanta Falcons.
During his seven-year career, the 28 year old has amassed 255 tackles, 11 interceptions and four forced fumbles. He returned an interception 56 yards against the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
Hayden played six years in Indianapolis’ Cover 2 system, which is very similar to Chicago’s scheme. He understands zone coverage and has the size to be effective in man-to-man sets.
Hayden was born in Chicago and played collegiate football at the University of Illinois. He met with Bears brass at Halas Hall a few weeks ago.
The club brought him in last offseason as well but were worried about a neck injury at the time. He instead signed on with the Atlanta Falcons, where he struggled. Hayden played just eight games, with one start, before landing on injured reserve with a toe injury. He recently passed a physical for the Bears.
Obviously, Chicago is hoping that putting him in a familiar scheme will allow him to have more success this year. He’ll only be useful though if he can stay healthy. Since becoming a starter in 2007, Hayden has played 16 games in a season just once. In fact, between 2008 and 2011, he never participated in more than 11 contests.
The Bears re-signed Tim Jennings this offseason to be the team’s starter alongside Charles Tillman, with D.J. Moore entrenched as the nickelback. Hayden will likely have the opportunity to de-seat Jennings in training camp. Based on his performances the past few seasons, that seems unlikely.
He will provide experience, depth and leadership in the secondary and will have value in subpackages, but he’s not the savior for what ails Chicago’s pass defense.
Despite signing two cornerbacks this offseason, the Bears will likely look to add a developmental corner in this year’s draft.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.