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Bears add safety Meriweather

CHICAGO – The Bears added to their secondary, agreeing to a one-year deal with two-time Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather.

The Bears announced the move Sunday, a day after he was released by New England.

Meriweather was a first-round pick with 244 total tackles and 12 interceptions over four seasons. In 2009, he had a career-high five interceptions and made the first of two straight Pro Bowls.

He joins a team that won the NFC North at 11-5 last season and made the conference title game with a defense that ranked ninth overall but just 20th against the pass.

The Bears rely heavily on takeaways, and Meriweather should help in that area, considering his 12 interceptions the past three years is tied for fourth among NFL safeties.

Chris Harris and Major Wright have been starting at safety for the Bears, and neither had a takeaway during the preseason. Backups Craig Steltz (hip) and Chris Conte (concussion) left the final preseason game Thursday with injuries.

Meriweather is known to freelance at times, but he has that history of making plays. He also has been involved in some controversy in the past.

In October 2006 while in college at Miami, he was part of an on-field fight with several Florida International players.

About three months earlier, he fired a gun at an assailant who had shot Miami backup safety Willie Cooper outside the house Cooper shared with Meriweather and another teammate, police said. Meriweather wasn't charged, and police said he used the gun legally.

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