Moving Forward, Making Progress: While Urlacher Looks To Return To Good Terms Rookie TE Reaches Terms As Team Begins To Negotiate With Rookies For First Deals Veterans Still Working In Demanding New Deals
This Means Business – Urlacher Shows Up, Briggs Shocked: Brian Urlacher will attend the team’s mandatory three-day mini-camp and the serious approach is a good, first step in the right direction. Urlacher is making the right decision to report to camp and it cannot be underestimated, as he’s sending a message not only to the front office but to the entire team – he’s motivated to improve upon last season’s debacle. Urlacher’s commitment to making the best out of this off-season fiasco is needed for a defense that was ranked 28th in ’07. You can say both Urlacher and the Chicago Bears organization need each other and there’s no telling how important this small choice could turn out to be. The more the first-team defense practices together and returns to it’s dominant, healthy form, the sooner and better the team’s chances are in getting back on-track in ’08. Urlacher, who battled through an arthritic condition in his back last season, still led the squad with 123 tackles, while picking up a team-high five interceptions to go along with five sacks. By the attending the mini-camp, Urlacher will avoid being fined the maximum of $8,165, per the collective bargaining agreement. Lance Briggs expressed his opinions and made his voice heard concerning the Urlacher situation:
Briggs’ Unwavering Support Expected: “I’m surprised, but it’s a happy surprised,” Briggs said Thursday. “It’s good to have your big brother back.
“I don’t think this thing should have got to the point where it is right now. Brian needs to be taken care of, period. He’s irreplaceable.”
My View/Thoughts: Irreplaceable – I don’t think anyone is irreplaceable nowadays in the NFL unless you are a franchise QB and the fact that Urlacher is not going to get any younger, quicker, faster, healthier, or for that matter, any better, the team is treating the problem with a business-like type of approach, a style that has been fair if anything – so what’s all the fuss about? We may not have another middle linebacker to call the shots and lead the team on D for #54, but I cannot agree with Mr. Briggs on Urlacher being “irreplaceable”. It’s not like we don’t have three or four other pro bowlers on our defense besides Urlacher? It’s not like we have a stellar defense without him? Though we are winless (0-7 in 2004) when he does not suit up for the Windy City Soldiers/Monsters of the Midway, you can point the team has too many holes and cannot sacrifice too much for player that has passed his prime. We need him to be at his best each & every Sunday, but it’s not like we are in dire need for him more than we are Mike Brown, or any other key offensive position player or lineman. No Rush: Bears Should Not Hurry To Meet Urlacher’s Desires
Back ‘n Forth Negotiating: Urlacher has been jockeying for more cash than the team has offered in their previous one-year extension. At this rate, I predict he be just like Briggs in accepting the “fair” proposal the team has on the table right now. The deal was set out to be $5 million up front, and $1 million added to his base salary per season in each season he participated in 85 percent of the snaps. The extension through 2012 also was said to include a base salary of $7.5 million in its final season. If Urlacher remains active that long, the team likely would adjust the amount. While Urlacher is set to return to his teammates, his disputed stance for more dough will not be put behind. #54 isn’t the only Bear looking for a new deal, as All-Pros Tommie Harris and the “Windy City Flyer” Devin Hester are also in the stages of pursuing new agreements.
Rookie TE Kellen Davis Becomes 1st of 12 Rookies To Sign: The Bears agreed to terms with rookie tight end Kellen Davis on a four-year deal. The former Michigan State standout is a versatile athlete who can play both the TE and DE positions. Davis, a 6-foot 6, 260-pound physical specimen, is expected to contribute inside the red zone and as a key blocker in short yardage situations. His size, strength, and tremendous jumping ability will likely make him a prime candidate for goal line play action duty and isolation plays ala Antonio Gates. He will start off as the team’s third TE and should work his way up due to the incredible amount of skill he possesses. “It’s always a positive thing to get a deal done with the Bears,” said Rosenhaus, who continues to negotiate a new deal for Tommie Harris after getting Lance Briggs in the fold during free agency. “Signing a guy like this early, you would believe that would help them with their negotiations with the other guys.”
Rosenhaus met with “top dog” Cliff Stein, the Bears’ main negotiator, Thursday, making Davis the first rookie to sign between the second and fifth rounds. The agent made tight end Greg Olsen the first first-rounder to sign a year ago when Olsen inked a deal with the Bears on July 5. Financial terms of the contract were not immediately available. The news was first reported by profootballtalk.com. More On The Way: I have been waiting for the “early bird” Bears to start inking their draft picks, as they’re usually the first to do so. One agent said the Bears wanted to get a majority of the deals done before the end of the month. If what’s said to be true, then Davis won’t be the only signing we’ll hear as mini-camp begins.
Contract chats are continuing and heating up with all of the draftees, although first-round Chris Williams is unlikely to put his pen (signature) to the paper any time soon. Expect third-round DT Marcus Harrison or one of the five seventh-rounders to get on the board next. I look for the team to come out strong and sign all their rookies expect for Matt Forte and Williams by Monday or at least Tuesday. It is so vitally important for Forte to get to camp as soon as possible with what we’ve seen with Benson on and off the field. I hope he can learn from Cedric and sign right away so he can compete for the starting role at RB.
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