The Chicago Bears is one of the most storied franchises in the history of the National Football League.
Next season, a Mainer hopes to make some history of his own at Soldier Field.
Enfield native Matthew Mulligan confirmed Tuesday night that he has signed a one-year contract with the Bears. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Where did you hear that already? That’s pretty fast,” Mulligan said only minutes after the team tweeted that it had signed him.
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound tight end, who spent most of last season with the New England Patriots, is happy to have a chance to pursue a seventh NFL season.
“I am thankful to have another opportunity to play in the National Football League and for a historic organization such as the Chicago Bears are, with a lot of tradition there, it’s a good opportunity,” Mulligan said.
The former University of Maine standout said he flew to Chicago last weekend to be evaluated by the team.
“I went out Sunday and did the workout on Monday and it went well, obviously,” Mulligan said. “They treated me well and everything I’ve heard about the Bears organization has been top notch.”
The 29-year-old Mulligan, who first signed with Miami as a free agent in 2008 and has seen game action with the New York Jets, the St. Louis Rams and the Patriots, was confident he would have the chance to continue playing based on the interest shown in him during the offseason.
“We actually had a lot of teams calling right from the get-go, but nothing that was concrete,” Mulligan said. “The Bears were the first ones to step into that mold and we really liked the opportunity that they’re giving us there.”
There are no guaranteed contracts in the NFL, which means a player must remain on the roster to be paid. Mulligan reportedly earned $715,000 last season with New England.
Mulligan, who is expected to report back to Chicago for mini-camp on April 21, will see a few familiar faces with the Bears.
“Matt Slauson, who’s their starting left guard, I played with him at the Jets,” Mulligan said. “I know him really well, actually, and hopefully it will make the transition a little bit easier.”
He also knows Bears quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, who was on the New York Jets staff during Mulligan’s time there.
The other tight ends listed on Chicago’s roster include eight-year veteran Dante Rosario of Oregon, seven-year man Martellus Bennett of Texas A&M and three-year veteran Fendo Onobun out of Houston.
Mulligan, who is a blocking specialist, has played in 65 career NFL games. He has made 16 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns, including one with the Patriots last season.
He also has two kick returns for 28 yards and one special-teams tackle.