From Walter Payton to Brian Urlacher, the Chicago Bears have rostered some great players throughout their history, including some who found most of their success with other teams. Here are five players you may have forgotten played for Chicago.
5. Santonio Holmes, 2014
A first-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, Holmes was a good player, but never great, except for his performance in Super Bowl XLIII, when he caught four passes on Pittsburgh’s final drive of the game, capped off by a magnificent touchdown catch in the back of the end zone to win the game. He was awarded Super Bowl MVP, and deservedly so. He followed that up with the best season of his career, catching 79 passes for 1,248 yards and five touchdowns. Due to off-field issues, he was traded to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick, and spent four years with the team. In 2014, he signed a one-year deal with the Bears, but was cut after nine games, having caught just eight passes.
4. Brandon Marshall, 2012-2014
Marshall is one of the more underrated receivers from the past two decades. A fourth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2006, Marshall put together five straight 1,000+ yard seasons for the Broncos and Miami Dolphins before being traded to the Bears in 2012, in exchange for two third-rounders. Over his three years in Chicago, Marshall caught 279 passes for 3,524 yards and 31 touchdowns. Prior to the 2014 season, he signed a four-year contract worth more than $39 million, but was dealt to the Jets a year later. He promptly had the best season of his career, catching 109 passes for 1,502 yards and 14 scores, but that would the last time he reached 1,000 yards. He played one more season for the Jets, and also spent time with the New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, and New Orleans Saints.
3. Doug Flutie, 1986-1987
Flutie began his pro career in the USFL, but joined the NFL after the former filed in 1986. He had been drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 11th round in 1985, and the team traded him to the Bears in 1986. Over a season-and-a-half, Flutie played in five games, starting one. Chicago traded Flutie to the New England Patriots in 1987, and in 1990, he left for the CFL, where he played eight seasons. Flutie returned to the NFL with the Buffalo Bills in 1998, making the Pro Bowl. He retired in 2005 after a stint with the San Diego Chargers, and one year backing up Tom Brady in New England.
2. Jared Allen, 2014-2015
A longtime Minnesota Viking, Allen collected 136 sacks throughout his career which began in 2004 as a fourth round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2014, he signed a four-year $32 million contract with the Bears, and totaled 5.5 sacks in 18 games with Chicago. Allen was 32 when he signed the deal, and it was clear he was way past his prime. He played four games in 2015 before being traded to the Carolina Panthers, reaching Super Bowl 50 but ultimately falling to the Denver Broncos, led by Peyton Manning.
Allen holds the NFL record for most consecutive games with a sack, which he set in 2011 and 2012. He is also tied for most career safeties with four. He is currently a member of a competitive curling team, along with former NFL players Marc Bulger, Keith Bulluck, and Michael Roos. This career change is completely in-character given Allen’s big personality.
1. Orlando Pace, 2009
The first overall pick in 1997, Pace was the definition of dominant. He was a man among boys at Ohio State, and has a very good argument for the title of best offensive lineman in NFL history. He spent 12 years with the St. Louis Rams, making seven Pro Bowls and three All-Pro teams. He was inducted into the Pro Football hall of Fame in 2016, and there are few players more deserving of that honor.
Injuries began to slow Pace down towards the end of his career, and following the 2008 season, he was released by the Rams at the age of 34. The Bears signed Pace to a three-year $15 million contract, and he started the first 11 games of the 2009 campaign, but suffered a groin injury and was cut after the season. He retired afterwards, ending one of the greatest careers in NFL history. He didn’t play great for Chicago, but it’s difficult to overstate just how incredible of a player he was during the prime of his career.