5 things we heard from Chicago Bears free-agent signings, including Gerald Everett’s connection to Shane Waldron

The Chicago Bears introduced eight of the players they signed in free agency Thursday and Friday at Halas Hall.

After the players completed their paperwork, they stepped into the media interview room to speak about why they joined the Bears.

Here are five things we learned.

1. New Bears players celebrated upon hearing of the trade for veteran wide receiver Keenan Allen.

New special teams ace Amen Ogbongbemiga said he couldn’t hold in his smile when he saw the Bears had traded for Allen, with whom he played the last three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.

He said Allen, for whom the Bears traded a fourth-round pick Thursday night, is “one of those dudes you’re excited to play with.” Allen, who will be 32 in April, has been named to the Pro Bowl in six of the last seven seasons. He topped 1,100 receiving yards in five of those seasons.

“From Day 1 of training camp to Week 15 or whenever he stopped practicing (because of injury), he gave it his all, and I’m looking at myself like, ‘This dude’s still got it,’ ” Ogbongbemiga said. “He’s got a lot of years in the tank. That’s what people don’t understand. They might look at his age and question him, but, nah, he’s got the juice. He’s going to bring some special moments to the city of Chicago. They are going to love him.”

Tight end Gerald Everett spent the last two years with the Chargers and called Allen’s play “infectious.”

“He’s a craftsman,” Everett said. “He’s very consistent, just how he approaches the practice field every day. He’s a laid-back guy, but when the lights come on, he produces. It’s infectious. People, we feed off that, and the Chargers, we fed off that. … I don’t see that changing here even with DJ (Moore).”

2. Familiarity with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was one of the draws to Chicago for tight end Gerald Everett.

Before his two seasons with the Chargers, Everett spent the first five seasons of his career playing for Waldron, who was his tight ends coach as a rookie and then passing game coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams and his offensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks for a season.

In seven seasons, Everett has 284 catches for 2,833 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Everett said Waldron was a “pusher” and also a great teacher and mentor early in his career. He said he saw Waldron’s rise to offensive coordinator coming early and said he has done “great things with the pieces he has had” in that role.

“He’s like a machine,” Everett said. “He’s like a computer almost, just the way he processes information and the way he relays it to us as players. I couldn’t say enough about Shane. Obviously coming to Chicago, he’s a big reason for that.”

Joining a group that includes Moore, Allen, tight end Cole Kmet and running backs D’Andre Swift and Khalil Herbert, Everett believes the Bears will be “loaded with talent” in Waldron’s first year as coordinator.

However, Everett decided on the Bears despite one big unknown. The Bears have not announced their plans at quarterback, but Everett said that didn’t bother him.

“I’ve had an array of quarterbacks throughout my career — collegiately and professionally,” he said before the Bears traded Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. “I don’t really think that’s going to stop any success that we may have. I mean, I would love to play with Justin. But whoever’s at the helm of it, we’ll build that cohesion.”

3. Safety Jonathan Owens said he — and wife Simone Biles — are excited about the Bears because Owens feels valued.

Owens, who played his first four seasons with the Houston Texans and last year with the Green Bay Packers, told reporters he had a few teams interested in signing him in free agency, all with about the same offer.

“But Chicago, they just were very persistent with my agent,” Owens said. “They sent an offer and they made sure that it was something they felt was fair for me, and me and my agent, we made the decision. This is the place that we want to be. Plus Chicago is a pretty dope city. It just adds to it, the reason you want to go there.”

Owens, who started 28 games over the last two seasons, said he thinks he’s a valuable asset in providing competition on defense and special teams. He’s excited to learn from veteran safety Kevin Byard, whose ballhawking skills he admires.

Biles, the decorated Olympic gymnast, also tweeted last week that she was excited about Owens heading to Chicago. Owens said Biles is excited about the pizza — and not needing a connecting flight to get to see him, as she did in Green Bay.

“Especially for her it gets kind of difficult, you know, walking through the airport,” Owens said. “I would be in Green Bay and she’s in the airport by herself and you have people at the gate just waiting on her to sign a bunch of stuff. And she’s 4-8, so it’s intimidating if 20 people, grown men, come up to you with stuff to sign. That’s some of the things I guess she has to deal with that most people won’t understand.

“But (Chicago) is easier. Super easy just to come here and so we’re both pretty excited about that. But regardless of the flights, we wanted to be somewhere we felt like we were wanted and I just really felt like Chicago really valued what I can do on the field, my versatility. I’m just excited to come here and be a part of this organization.”

4. New center Coleman Shelton said he views his spot as a competition.

The Bears signed Shelton to a one-year deal Thursday, a little more than a week after they traded a fifth-round pick to acquire center/guard Ryan Bates from the Buffalo Bills.

The 6-foot-4, 299-pound Shelton played in 73 games for the Rams and made 32 starts over the last three seasons. He has more recent starting center experience than Bates.

When asked what the Bears told him about his role, Shelton said: “You’ve always got to prove yourself when you go out there every day. I’m just going to do to the best of my ability to go out and compete.”

Shelton also worked with Waldron for two seasons with the Rams. He said he feels as if he fits Waldron’s scheme well and said it played a factor in picking the Bears.

“I run well. I block the second level well,” he said. “It’s about playing your hardest, and I think I do that as hard as I can every day.

“I’ve always liked how (in the scheme) you can stretch a defense. It looks complex but it feels simple to the offense. There’s a bunch of different things that come off of certain formations and you can always just fall back on your rules. It feels complex but it’s simple at the same time.”

Shelton said he never has worked with a rookie quarterback, but if that’s the route the Bears go, it will be about learning the offense together.

“The more you work with somebody, the more comfortable you feel with them, so it’s just about consistency and coming in with a positive attitude every day,” Shelton said.

5. Wide receiver Dante Pettis pondered life after football while sitting out the 2023 season.

Pettis fractured the T1 vertebra in his neck in the 2023 preseason and spent the first half of the season rehabbing and working out in California. He was medically cleared by about Week 8 and then waited for his opportunity to return.

He said because of the uncertainty, he thought about what he would do after football — he’s interested in photography — while still preparing to return to the game.

“It was tough for parts of it just because people look at neck injuries and it could really turn some people off,” Pettis said. “And so, just trying to deal with the fact that, OK, that could have been my last play playing football. And really just coming to terms with what the game means to me and what I would do if I didn’t have it, what I would do if I get it back.

“It was just a lot of sitting down, thinking about how football affects me, what all of this means. It was tough but very necessary I think.”

Pettis is back with the Bears on a one-year deal for his sixth season in the league. In 2022, he had 19 catches for 245 yards and three touchdowns and returned 18 punts for 163 yards.