Darwin Walker has a new home.
The ex-Bears defensive tackle signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers today to help shore up a need that became glaring after Kris Jenkins was traded to the Jets and the club passed over the position in the draft.
Walker was cut loose in February following an injury-riddled season as the Bears opted not to pay him a $5.2 million roster bonus. At 30, he can still be effective but he has to stay on the field.
He was brought in to fill the void created when the club had to cut fellow tackle Tank Johnson last summer. Johnson got pulled over and came within 0.008 of a DUI in Arizona within 36 hours of the club’s offseason program ending. That ended his run with the team and put the Bears in a scramble for help in the middle of the defense.
Walker had refused to report to Buffalo, where he had been traded by Philadelphia, unless he got a new contract. The Bills swapped him to the Bears for a fifth-round pick. They gave him a new deal, but it was almost completely contingent on him turning into a player for the Bears. Walker made only $1.9 million last season as the Bears saved having to make a major investment knowing he might not be the solution.
Now, third-round pick Marcus Harrison is on board and he might be the answer for Tank.