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Bears add cornerback depth by signing CFL All-Star Tre Roberson, a former Illinois State quarterback

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 1/29/2020 By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune
a man holding a baseball bat on a field: Illinois State quarterback Tre Roberson watches from the sidelines while talking with a coach during a practice in preparation for the FCS national championship Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2015 at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill. Roberson, an All-Star cornerback in the CFL, has agreed to a contract with the Bears. © Anthony Souffle / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Illinois State quarterback Tre Roberson watches from the sidelines while talking with a coach during a practice in preparation for the FCS national championship Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2015 at Hancock Stadium in Normal, Ill. Roberson, an All-Star cornerback in the CFL, has agreed to a contract with the Bears.

The Bears got an early start on one of their offseason goals Tuesday night when they improved their depth at cornerback by agreeing to a contract with CFL All-Star Tre Roberson.

Roberson, who helped lead the Calgary Stampeders to the Grey Cup title in 2018, announced via Twitter that he will sign with the Bears. The 6-foot, 190-pound Roberson drew interest from more than half the teams in the league and was on an extended tryout tour before agreeing to a two-year contract with the Bears. ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on Twitter it will be the richest deal for a CFL-to-NFL player since defensive end Cameron Wake went from the BC Lions to the Dolphins on a four-year contract in 2009.

Roberson, 27, spent time with the Vikings’ practice squad in 2016 and 2017, but his career didn’t take off until he reached the CFL. He intercepted seven passes in 2019, returning two for touchdowns. During the second half of the season, opponents rarely threw his way.

Roberson, an Indianapolis native, was a star quarterback at Illinois State after transferring from Indiana. He led the Redbirds to the 2014 FCS championship game where they lost 29-27 to North Dakota State. ISU finished that season 13-2, then went 10-3 with a trip to the FCS quarterfinals in 2015 for a 23-5 record with Roberson.

He wasn’t invited to the scouting combine in 2016 but caught the attention of the Vikings in a rookie minicamp tryout after showing up without a position. He was converted to cornerback and spent significant time on the Vikings practice squad.

Roberson had contract offers from 10 NFL teams and worked out for the Bears earlier in the month. The Bears didn’t have a lot of depth behind starters Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara in 2019. Amukamara is entering the final year of his contract and is due to earn $9 million.

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