Transactions roundup: Bears release Jerrell Freeman

NFL teams are beginning their purge before the new league year opens next month.

The Chicago Bears released linebacker Jerrell Freeman on Tuesday, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported. Pro Football Talk first reported the development.

Freeman signed a three-year $12 million contract with Chicago in 2016 after four seasons in Indianapolis. His release will save the Bears nearly $3.5 million on the salary cap.

Freeman performed well early in his Bears career, compiling 110 tackles in 12 games, but he was suspended four tilts for PED use in 2016. The 31-year-old played just one game in 2017 before heading to injured reserve with a pectoral injury.

Freeman was then popped for another PED violation, leading to a 10-game suspension. He will serve the final two games of that ban at the start of the 2018 season.

The Bears also will decline their $8 million option on veteran guard Josh Sitton, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero report.

Other cuts we are tracking Tuesday:

1. The Jacksonville Jaguars exercised their option on tight end Marcedes Lewis' contract -- a move that will likely keep him on the roster for the 2018 season. The team also exercised options on the contracts of reserve offensive tackle Josh Wells and reserve offensive guard/center Tyler Shatley. The moves prevent all three players from hitting free agency on March 14.

The Jaguars have declined to exercise options for wide receiver Arrelious Benn and tight end Mychal Rivera. Benn and Rivera will become free agents on March 14 -- the start of the new league year.

2. The Buccaneers ended Doug Martin's run in Tampa Bay. The Bucs cut the running back after back-to-back disappointing seasons. The Buccaneers also released defensive tackle Chris Baker.

3. The Texans released linebacker Brian Cushing, the team confirmed on Tuesday.

4. The Eagles signed defensive tackle Winston Craig, the team announced.

5. The Jets exercised their options on defensive tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Josh Martin, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports.