The Bears on Monday re-signed tight end Ben Braunecker to a two-year contract.
Braunecker, 25, originally joined the Bears in 2016 as an undrafted free agent from Harvard. He has appeared in 36 games with four starts in three seasons, catching seven passes for 83 yards and recording 11 special-teams tackles.
Braunecker was due to become a restricted free agent. He’s the second free agent-to-be the Bears have re-signed since the end of the regular season. The first was right tackle Bobby Massie, who inked a four-year extension through 2022 on Jan 26.
NFL teams were permitted to begin negotiating with free agents at 11 a.m. (CT) Monday and can begin signing them when the new league year begins at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The Bears now have 17 players who are slated to become free agents Wednesday. Thirteen are set to become unrestricted free agents, including safety Adrian Amos, receiver Joshua Bellamy, nickel back Bryce Callahan, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch and punter Patrick O’Donnell.
The others are tight end Daniel Brown, fullback Michael Burton, running back Benny Cunningham, offensive linemen Eric Kush and Bryan Witzmann, receiver Kevin White, cornerback Marcus Williams and defensive tackle Nick Williams.
Players set to become restricted free agents are safety DeAndre Houston-Carson and long-snapper Patrick Scales. Exclusive free agents-to-be are offensive tackle Rashaad Coward, outside linebacker Isaiah Irving and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris.
Unrestricted free agents have at least four accrued NFL seasons and can sign with another team after the start of the new league year without their original club receiving any compensation. Restricted free agents have three accrued seasons and can sign an offer sheet with another team that their original club has the chance to match. Exclusive free agents have less than three accrued NFL seasons and can only negotiate and sign with their original team.