Chicago Sports Inside and Out – The Chicago Sports Maven

Bringing Chicago sports to the world!

Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Sun-Times’

Chicago Bears Devin Hester Signs New Extension

Posted by sportsmaven on July 27, 2008

Thank the higher powers above that Devin Hester’s wobbly hamstring healed just enough for him to sign a 4 year extension for a reported $40 million dollars, with a guaranteed $15 million.  The contract also has another $10 million in incentives if Hester develops into a #1 receiver, for which he has the potential to accomplish.

(Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

(Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

Word on the street is that the Hester deal has all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed:

  • David Haugh from the Chicago Tribune reports that “Hester becomes the 10th Bears starter and fifth Pro Bowl player the Bears have signed to a contract extension this off-season. It is believed this new contract will make Hester the highest-paid return man in NFL history.”
  • David Haugh also reports that Hester is at the top of the list of recent Chicago Bears re-signed by Chicago Bears GM Jerry Angelo.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times reveals that “[Hester’s] extension adds four new years for Hester meaning he is a Bear through 2013. He was under contract through 2009 and he is the first player with a four-year contract for the Bears to get new money after only two seasons.”
  • ESPN reports that “This [contract] was probably the most difficult one we’ve had to do and probably ever will do because we’re not only rewarding a special player,” Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. “If you look at it as a returner, we blew that [money total] out of the water. It was now looking at him as what he might be or could be as a receiver. That’s where the real difficulties were and a real challenge.”

Any way you look at it, it seems that Devin Hester is happy (and potentially $40M richer) and the Bears are happy (a difficult, challenging, but creative and fair contract).  Hester celebrated by catching a 40-yd pass from QB Rex Grossman in Sunday afternoon’s practice.  Seems as though the hammy is healed.

Other Devin Hester commentary:

  • Windy City Gridiron notes that “[Bears] check another off theirs list” with the Hester signing.
  • Matt Loede from Bearsgab.com notes that “We’ll see now with a lot more cash in his pocket if that hamstring suddenly feels better today”
  • AOL Sports Fanhouse reports that “virtually everyone things [Hester signing] is a good move.”

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Sober” Chicago Bears Force The Rest Of Us To Drink

Posted by sportsmaven on March 5, 2008

The Chicago Bears entered this off-season with a clear goal of making the offense the #1 priority. Bears GM Jerry Angelo stressed his intentions in his season ending press conference, but the actions of the Chicago Bears to date, suggest a series of miscues that make it nearly impossible to believe that the Bears offense will be better than last season, much less believing it to be the #1 priority of this off-season.

Lance Briggs Re-signs with Chicago Bears

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

If improving the offense is, indeed, the #1 priority, I would have thought the Bears would have invested in an approach similar to the following:

1. Franchise WR Bernard Berrian — using the same strategy of maintaining defensive consistency by retaining LB Lance Briggs this past season, the Bears could have began by locking up their game breaker, Berrian for one season with the franchise tag. This would serve the purpose of maintaining consistency in the offense, keeping the strength of an already suspect WR corps intact, buy some valuable time in attempting to sign Berrian long term deal, and finally, taking pressure off the remaining receivers to develop immediately.

2. Pick up a stud OL OR RB in free agency — the need for free agency to shore up one of these positions is paramount in getting the offense back on track. The Bears have an aging, ineffective OL, the oldest in the NFL in average age last season. The current RB situation is dire, with RB Cedric Benson ineffective and injured with a broken ankle that doctors say may affect his speed. If you took care of one in free agency, the other would be resolved in the draft and the offense is in much better shape. Both positions are thin in free agency and abundant in the draft, with the OL standing out as a little stronger in this year’s draft, so signing a RB such as Michael Turner would be a logical choice, sending a strong message that the Bears were serious about improving an anemic running game and making offense a #1 priority.

3. Invest in improving the long term outlook at QB — the Bears QB situation is not horrible, but it’s not great either. QB Rex Grossman led the Bears to the Super Bowl in the 2006 season and took way more criticism that his performance warranted. He still has potential to be a very good QB in the league and the open competition with Kyle Orton could be a decent challenge. I am more confident about the QB situation if the first two points are adequetely addressed.

So what have the Bears done so far this off-season?

1. The Bears release OT Fred Miller, OG Ruben Brown, WR Muhsin Muhammad, trade QB Brian Griese, extend the contract of DE Alex Brown, re-sign LB Lance Briggs, re-sign QB Rex Grossman, extend the contract of QB Kyle Orton, sign WR Marty Booker, cut ties with special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo, lose WR Bernard Berrian to division-rival Minnesota Vikings, and lose TE John Gilmore to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears come out slightly ahead on defense, as the Briggs contract was very reasonable, they break even on the released players, trading Muhammad for Booker is even or a slight upgrade, but the one player they could least afford to lose on the offense was Bernard Berrian. Losing Berrian to a division rival is a double hit, weakening the Bears while strengthening the Vikings.

2. San Diego Chargers RB Michael Turner never made it to Chicago, amidst reports that he was interested in Chicago but didn’t get a sniff of interest from the Bears. Turner signed a contract (similar to what Lance Briggs signed for) to be the feature back for the Atlanta Falcons. With most of the top free agent guards and tackles off the board by this time, and no other stud RB’s left in free agency, the Bears are now forced to look at lesser free agents, or try to fill both holes in the draft.

3. The QB position is now weakened by removing Grossman/Orton’s most reliable, game breaking talent. That, combined with the lack of a game breaking RB, and a solid OL exposes the very weaknesses of both QB’s and adds further pressure to the development of Devin Hester as a WR. Hester as a WR either has the potential of diminishing his effectiveness as a kick/punt returner, or removing him from that responsibility completely. Combined with the loss of Ayanbadejo, the cascade effect of the Bears off season decisions weakens the special teams unit as well.

The remaining free agent class lacks players with the caliber to improve the Bears offense enough to call it a marked improvement on last year’s squad. This puts huge pressure on the Bears football leadership to come through in drafting immediate impact players and difference makers for the offense in the April 26-27th NFL Draft. This is an extremely tall order, given the Bears recent history of drafting ineffective offensive talent. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti had it right in his article, suggesting that the Bears needed to get drunk and spend. With an estimated $30M under the salary cap (amidst a rise in ticket prices for the 2008 season), spending to fill holes and improve would seem more than reasonable.

The Bears did manage to stay “sober” in this year’s free agent market , but the potential of a 12-4 season is quickly being replaced with the potential of a 4-12 season, with the Super Bowl fading further and further away in the rear view mirror.

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chicago Bears Handling Jones and Briggs Situations Perfectly

Posted by sportsmaven on March 7, 2007

I was reading Steve Rosenbloom’s blog this morning about the Thomas Jones trade and the Lance Briggs franchise issue and the more dissentious opinions I read in the media, the better I feel about the Bears approach with both situations. With Thomas Jones situation, the trade was inevitable when Cedric Benson started getting more carries and confidence in the second half of the Bears season. Benson has guaranteed money, is younger, and produced the same output as Jones with the exception of yards (only because he had half the carries.) The right move was to keep a promise to Jones by moving him. The Bears were not going to sign him to a long term deal. The talent levels are similar, in my opinion, with Benson having more upside (mainly because he is younger and bigger). Thomas Jones is a good back, but the NFL is a league full of good backs with more good backs coming from the college ranks.

Thomas Jones Traded to the Jets

I am actually excited to see if Adrian Peterson can step up and be the second back for the Bears. I think he can, he showed he can on the few drives he had this season (4.1 YPC and 2 TD’s) In the meantime, the Bears moved from the bottom of the second round to the top of the second round, where the talent level is much greater and saved $2.25M for next year’s salary cap to use elsewhere (the savings from Thomas Jones’ contract)

With Lance Briggs, the Bears are managing that to the letter of what the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows and managing to the best interest of the team. Briggs was reportedly offered a 6 year, $33M contract with $16M guaranteed before this season, but he declined with the full knowledge that the Bears have a franchise tag that they can use on him. The Bears indicated as such in those negotiations and followed through when the contract remained unsigned. Briggs’ strategy was to then attack Bears management and making statements that he will not play for the Bears next season, with the net effect of killing any trade hopes the Bears may have had from him this season. The phone at Halas Hall is not as much as ringing for a Lance Briggs trade, according to Brad Biggs article in today’s Chicago Sun-Times:

Briggs lambasted the organization Monday and said he has no desire to return under the franchise tag, which would pay him $7.206 million in 2007 — 10 times his salary from last season. Tough, was the general message Angelo sent back in Briggs’ direction. The Bears can’t actively seek to trade him under the terms of the franchise tag, but they can listen to overtures from other clubs. Angelo said no one has called.

I’m not sure which of the two paths that Briggs pursued is the worst. They are both bad, both incredibly stupid. What Briggs has essentially done with those two actions is GUARANTEE that he will be playing for the franchise salary of $7.2M next season unless he decides to complete the idiot troika of decisions and decides to sit out the 2007 season in protest. (This is a pure example of chasing bad decisions with more bad decisions). Finally, Briggs all about killed himself PR wise with his comments that this is not about money, but respect. It’s as if the fans he’s talking to on the radio are complete blithering idiots (which a lot of fans are) and don’t understand that it’s ALL about the money. If I were Lance Briggs, I would take a lesson from my ex-teammate and fellow Drew Rosenhaus client, Thomas Jones and follow his path. Play the year, play it well. The Bears may franchise you again next season, but may decide not to do that. Then you are free to go. Or you may sign a long term deal with the Bears.

Either way, I believe the Bears handled both situations perfectly, and for what they were. They didn’t panic and didn’t give in and just start spending unwise money (unlike the Atlanta Falcons, who are still a mess 8 years after their Super Bowl loss.)

Posted in Chicago Bears | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »