The Bears on Saturday retained two of their own free agents, agreeing to terms with receiver Marc Mariani on a one-year contract and defensive lineman Mitch Unrein on a two-year deal.
With injuries depleting the Bears' receiving corps last year, Mariani helped fill the void by becoming a regular contributor, especially over the second half of the season. Appearing in all 16 games with five starts, he established career highs with 22 receptions and 300 yards.
|Veteran receiver Marc Mariani contributed on offense and special teams for the Bears last season.|
Mariani, who will turn 29 on May 2, originally joined the Bears on Nov. 18, 2014. Much like tight end Zach Miller, his career has been revitalized in Chicago after it was derailed by a serious injury.
Mariani was selected by the Tennessee Titans in the seventh round of the 2010 draft out of Montana. He was voted to the Pro Bowl on special teams as a rookie after scoring touchdowns on a 98-yard kickoff return and 87-yard punt return.
Mariani appeared in 32 games with the Titans in 2010-11, averaging 24.8 yards with one touchdown on 92 kickoff returns and 11.2 yards with two TDs on 73 punt returns. He also caught five passes for 24 yards, all in 2011.
But Mariani then missed the next two seasons with a broken leg in 2012 and a shoulder injury in 2013, before he resuscitated his career with the Bears.
Unrein, meanwhile, appeared in 14 games with four starts for the Bears last season, recording 32 tackles, one sack and two tackles-for-loss. The 6-4, 306-pounder originally joined the team last Sept. 25, one day after he was released by the San Diego Chargers.
Unrein, who will turn 29 on March 25, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Broncos, where he played for Bears coach John Fox and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers, both of whom served in the same capacity with Denver from 2011-14.
Unrein has also served as a fullback in short-yardage situations. In a Thanksgiving night win over the Packers last season, he threw a key block against Clay Matthews Jr. on Jeremy Langford's 1-yard touchdown run.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace and his staff have followed Unrein since he was at Wyoming. At the time, an opposing coach once showed his players tape of the defensive lineman as an example of the energy they should bring to the field. Unrein appealed to the Bears because of his non-stop motor as well as his toughness, intelligence, versatility and intensity.
The Bears have now brought back six of their own free agents, with Mariani and Unrein joining cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Sherrick McManis, running back Jacquizz Rodgers, and tackle Nick Becton.