Chicago Sun-Times

March 2008 Archives

There is more to wide receiver Jerome Simpson than a small school background that makes him comparable to Marty Booker.

Simpson, from Coastal Carolina, has some huge mitts like the veteran Booker, who the Bears brought back earlier this month to help solidify the receiver position. Booker, who went to Louisiana-Monroe, has used his large hands and long arms to put together a nice nine-year career.

The Bears are in the market to draft some more help and sent receivers coach Darryl Drake to put Simpson through a workout earlier this month.

Finalized draft order

| 12 Comments | No TrackBacks

Now that the compensatory picks have been released and the Bears were awarded three extra choices in the seventh round we can chart exactly where they will be.

General manager Jerry Angelo has four of the top 90 selections and five of the first 110. The Bears have had good success at the beginning of the fourth round in the past, the first round of the second day.

They tabbed Alex Brown with the 104th overall pick in 2002, Nathan Vasher with the 110th pick in 2004 and Kyle Orton with the 106th pick in 2005. The Bears own the 110th pick this year, but the second day will begin with the third round after the format was shifted for this year.

A look at the their picks:

Round-Pick-Overall

1-14-14
2-13-44
3-7-70 (Briggsgate: Flip-flopping with San Francisco, which is now at 3-12-75)
3-27-90 (from San Diego)
4-11-110
5-7-147 (from Carolina)
6-9-175
7-15-222
7-36-243
7-40-247
7-41-248

The Bears were awarded three compensatory draft picks Monday as the NFL Management Council announced the additional draft picks today at the owners meetings in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Based on the losses of defensive tackles Alfonso Boone and Ian Scott, wide receiver Justin Gage and safety Todd Johnson, and balanced against only the addition of defensive tackle Anthony Adams, the Bears were awarded three additional choices in the seventh round. According to a release by the league, former safety Cameron Worrell was not considered in the equation.

They add the 36th, 40th and 41st picks of the round which are 243, 247 and 248 overall. Conditional draft picks cannot be traded.

The Bears will meet the Indianapolis Colts in a rematch of Super Bowl XLI on Sunday, Sept. 7, in the first regular-season game at the new Lucas Oil Stadium.

The 7:15 game will be telecast on NBC.

The NFL released the nationally televised games for Kickoff Weekend today from the owners meetings in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Don’t expect concrete answers on everything that is put in front of the owners at the NFL meetings that begin Monday morning in West Palm Beach, Fla.

But word is the league will reveal the national television schedule for kickoff weekend on Monday, and possibly the lineup for Thanksgiving Day. The Washington Post already reported the Redskins will open the season at the defending champion New York Giants on Thursday, Sept. 4. The remainder of the schedule could come later in the week with considerable scuttlebutt that an announcement will be made Thursday afternoon.

There are a lot of issues at play heading into the NFL owners meetings next week in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The competition committee has gotten together twice recently for a total of 11 days to hammer out some issues that will be before the teams. Some of them are simple. It looks like one defensive player could finally be green-lighted to get a green sticker on his helmet that would signify he has helmet communication with the sideline like quarterbacks. Bears coach Lovie Smith has said he is in favor of this.

Some are more complex, like re-seeding the playoffs. Owner Michael McCaskey said he was generally opposed to the idea when at the combine because it minimized the significance of winning your division.

This past postseason, it would have meant the Buccaneers would have traveled to the Giants and the Steelers would have traveled to the Jaguars in wild-card round games. Instead, the division-winning Bucs and Steelers had home games against teams with better records.

If you're interested in wading through it, here is the entire conference call that was led by Atlanta's Rich McKay, who chairs the competition committee, and Ray Anderson, the NFL's vice president of operations. Warning --- this makes even the long posts on here look short.

RICH McKAY: We'll start, as Greg [Aiello] said, we met for probably four days in Indianapolis. We met again in Naples for like seven days. We conducted our annual survey, which we sent to all the teams and got good input. That kind of frames the outline for our report, and then obviously meet and go through it. We also met with the players, got their concerns, proposed some things to them to get their feedback. That kind of forms the basis of our report.

Our report kind of starts this year with the idea of competitive balance, because that is something that we as a League take great pride in and believe should be an object of ours. This year, I think with a fifth seed in the Playoffs, again, winning the Super Bowl, and the sixth seed having won it two years ago shows that competitively we are a very balanced League.

The deadline for restricted free agents to sign an offer sheet with another club is April 18, three weeks from today.

The Bears have two RFA’s who have yet to sign their tenders. Safety Brandon McGowan will probably do so soon. He received the mid-level tender for $1.417 million that would require a team to send the Bears a second-round draft pick if it signed McGowan to an offer sheet and the Bears declined to match it. Quite simply, that’s not going to happen. McGowan figures to be in the mix for a starting job after improving at the end of last season. A lot at safety will depend on what happens with Mike Brown, who’s coming off his third serious injury and will be entering the final year of his contract.

There has been enough venting in comments posted on here to last a car ride from Halas Hall to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and back.

The Bears are cheap and they never spend any money. Just look at what’s left to do for an offense in need of a tackle, guard, running back, receiver and, oh yeah, quarterback. (Those needs, by the way, are in no particular order of priority).

The club brought back linebacker Lance Briggs at its price, got out of the bidding for wide receiver Bernard Berrian when the money escalated far above what it was willing to pay. And then waited. While some rank-and-file offensive linemen signed elsewhere, the Bears stood pat. Then, they brought back Marty Booker for essentially the money they had earmarked for fellow receiver Muhsin Muhammad before he was released. And they added another receiver in Brandon Lloyd for the minimum-salary benefit. If he goes bonkers on the sidelines as he once did in Washington, he’s gone.

What’s left in terms of needs will be filled mostly through the draft.

And to read Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, that’s not such a bad thing.

Pittsburgh offensive tackle Jeff Otah skipped on his school's pro day on Monday because of a sore ankle, but said the Bears are among teams who have been in contact with him.

Otah, who said the ankle nagged him all last season, will work out for scouts April 9.

“Several teams have called me so far,” Otah told the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat. “The Bears, the Panthers, the Eagles, the Steelers, definitely are looking at me, and I just talked to Kansas City (Monday). But you never know how this things are going to work out.

“It’s all about team needs and how things play out on draft day. So, I just want to keep working hard and get some good measurables. I’ve got good film, but now I’ve got to get the other stuff, running, weightlifting and agility.”

Repeating as the NFL’s top-ranked special teams unit apparently wasn’t enough to get Bears coach Dave Toub honored for a second straight season.

San Diego Chargers special teams coach Steve Crosby will be honored as the special teams coach of the year Tuesday at a banquet in Nevada by Professional Kicking Services, Inc. Toub took home he hardware from the event last year.

Perhaps the voters—the special teams coaches themselves—figured Toub had plenty of advantage with Devin Hester, who is on pace to shatter scoring records for special teams after only two seasons. How else do you explain the coach of the top unit not winning?

If you can play, they will find you.

That’s what Wheaton College defensive end/outside linebacker Andy Studebaker is finding out even as he works his way back from a torn Lisfranc ligament suffered in the fifth game last fall. That cut short a college career that exploded during his junior season when he had 17 1/2 sacks.

The Division III All-American made a visit to the Baltimore Ravens today. He’s already been to Buffalo and has pre-draft trips lined up to Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Kansas City. Studebaker, who is from Downstate Congerville and went to Eureka High, is still rehabilitating his foot injury and that makes his draft status a little iffy.

The Bears are in a honky tonk kind of mood as they are reportedly headed to Vanderbilt Tuesday to meet with Commodores offensive tackle Chris Williams.

East Coast scout Rex Hogan attended the school's pro day last week, and the team is going in for a closer look.

Action for Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall is starting to pick up.

Mendenhall will have a private workout for the Carolina Panthers today. Carolina owns the 13th pick in the first round, one slot ahead of the Bears. The Panthers having been doing their homework on backs this week. Led by general manager Marty Hurney, Carolina met with Arkansas running back Felix Jones following the Razorbacks pro day on Tuesday in Fayetteville, Ark.

Here's a guard to keep in mind ... the Bears are believed to have keen interest in Southern Cal's Chilo Rachal, who figures to be picked anywhere from the end of the first round to the beginning of the third round.

Rachal, a self-described glass eater who played right guard last season. could have been the top-rated guard in next year’s class had he returned to school, but pressing family medical needs led to his early exit from Pete Carroll’s program. So he’s a little raw and rough around the edges, but the Trojans run a pro-style attack and Rachal is a physical force with a high ceiling.

Plus, the Bears like drafting underclassmen. You get a player that’s younger and with less wear and tear. That means he’s younger when it comes time for a second contract and you can feel better about a longterm investment if he pans out.

At 6-5, 315, Rachal is very athletic. He ran the 40 in 5.16 seconds at the combine and did 28 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press. He missed three games last season with a right knee injury, but did not allow a sack and was an all-Pac 10 selection. The Trojans pro day is Wednesday.

It wasn’t your typical pro day at LSU.

That was the word coming from Baton Rouge, La., where the Tigers had some lead in their shoes according to one source.

``That was the worst pro day I can remember here,’’ one source said. ``Nobody ran [well].’’

Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, considered the best of the bunch and a potential top-five pick, ran 5.12 or 5.15 seconds in the 40-yard dash, depending on who you listen to. He weighed in at 297 pounds and looked a little light.

If it sounds like a description of Bears Pro Bowl tackle Tommie Harris, that’s because Dorsey had long been compared to him. Right down to the injury history. That’s the thing that has dogged Dorsey lately with reports recently that he had arthroscopic knee surgery, something he has denied. Harris fell to the Bears at No. 14 in 2004 because of concerns about his knees. Don’t count on Dorsey dropping into the Bears lap.

We’ve got four more names for you to add to the list of 30 players the Bears have or will bring to Halas Hall for pre-draft visits.

Colorado State quarterback Caleb Hanie was in for a visit last week along with San Diego State running back Brandon Bornes.

A pair of Oregon players are scheduled to visit next month—safety Matthew Harper and defensive tackle David Faaeteete.

That’s seven names we know of to this point. Southern Illinois quarterback Nick Hill, Cincinnati safety Haruki Nakamura and Western Kentucky wide receiver Curtis Hamilton have already made visits.

We’re still waiting for information to trickle out of Baton Rouge, La., concerning LSU’s pro day, but there’s more to report.

Bears Southeast scout Mark Sadowski was at the South Carolina State pro day on Tuesday. The Bears were one of three teams there along with Kansas City and New Orleans. Former Bears wide receiver Airese Currie, who has been hampered since his senior year at Clemson with foot problems, also showed up in hopes of generating interest. Currie was released last May 7 and the Bears are not expected to give him another shot.

Yes, the Bears did have a private workout with Rutgers offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah as J.J. Pesavento of Next Level Scouting reported first on Tuesday.

Offensive line coach Harry Hiestand traveled to New Jersey to put Zuttah through a one-on-one workout on March 6 and do some board work with him where they work on plays on a dry-erase board.

The Scarlet Knight has his pro day today and interest is only growing in Zuttah after he put together one of the overall best workouts at the combine. Zuttah was the only lineman to run a sub-five second 40-yard dash, coming in at 4.99 seconds, and he combined that with 35 reps in the bench press at 225 pounds. He had a solid vertical jump of 26 1/2 inches, and a broad jump of 8-11. Good stuff for a 6-3, 303-pounder.

Check out this action of Zuttah catching a lateral against Louisville and motoring downfield
.

Lovie Smith walked away from Walker Pavilion on the University of Arkansas campus earlier today impressed with what he saw.

``There are quite a few athletes here that can step up to the next level and contribute right away,’’ Smith told ArkansasSports360.com. ``You’ve got a chance to have multiple first-round picks. That is special.’’

Those first-round picks could be Razorbacks running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, who Smith lunched with on Monday before Tuesday’s pro day. About 50 NFL scouts, coaches and front-office types showed up for the workout. McFadden and Jones did limited work as both showed well at the combine last month. They caught passes and did the bench press, each putting up 225 pounds 13 times. Also present was Bears Southwest scout Chris Ballard.

We’re still gathering some information from the action down in Fayetteville, Ark., at the Razorbacks pro day earlier today and should have an update a little bit later on. Lovie Smith and Bears Southwest area scout Chris Ballard were on hand to watch running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, among others.

But there’s more draft information coming in all the time.

J.J. Pesavento of Next Level Scouting has reported that the Bears put Rutgers offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah through a private workout. Zuttah is also scheduled to have private workouts with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has already worked out for both New York teams as well.

In the aftermath of Briggsgate, the Bears' choices for the April 26-27 draft have changed now that they have the seventh pick of the third round.

A look at the their picks:

Round-Pick-Overall

1-14-14
2-13-44
3-7-70 (Briggsgate: Flip-flopping with San Francisco, which is now at 3-12-75)
3-27-90 (from San Diego)
4-11
5-9 (from Carolina)
6-9
7-15

Note: The overall number for picks from round four on down will not be determined until compensation picks are determined.

Matt Maiocco provides some more compelling reading on Briggsgate, which unfortunately now that it’s over has proven to be not nearly as salacious as Spygate. Nonetheless, I am informing the boss there may be a person of interest for this story residing in Hawaii and it’s quite possible he has evidence and is itching to tell all.

According to Maiocco’s report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the only evidence against the San Francisco 49ers in the tampering case initiated by the Bears was two very short phone calls, 20 seconds in length.

Now, agent Drew Rosenhaus is skilled in the art of the deal but it’s hard to imagine what kind of tampering can be accomplished in 40 seconds. From my perspective, there has to be more ot the story. Whether it's hearsay or more, who knows?

When it comes to trades in the first round, Jerry Angelo’s history is to deal down.

He’s done it three times total (twice in 2003, and traded down twice in the second round in six drafts). It would take a big jump up for he Bears to realistically have the opportunity to draft Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. That doesn’t mean they are not doing their homework.

Coach Lovie Smith lunched with McFadden and Razorbacks teammate Felix Jones in Fayetteville, Ark., Monday. Smith and Southwest area scout Chris Ballard will attend the school’s pro day today.

Picked up an interesting point courtesy of ESPN’s John Clayton earlier tonight regarding Briggsgate.

When you analyze one of the draft pick value charts used to assess trades, the Bears gain 25 points by moving from the 12th pick in the third round (75th overall) to the seventh pick in the third round (70th overall) following commissioner Roger Goodell’s ruling.

It doesn’t sound like a lot. But 25 points on the chart is equivalent to a high sixth-round pick. So you can look at it like the Bears gained a sixth-round pick. On the other side of things, San Francisco was stripped of a fifth-round pick by Goodell and loses the equivalent of a sixth rounder by moving into the Bears spot at No. 12 in Round 3. All for some shenanigans involving linebacker Lance Briggs, a player Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rose Press Democrat doesn’t believe really fits what the Niners are doing, not with the emergence of Patrick Willis.

Predictably, the San Francisco 49ers were none too happy with Roger Goodell's ruling this afternoon.

The Niners lose their fifth-round draft pick and will move down in the third round in a swap with the Bears. Goodell ruled they were guilty of tampering with linebacker Lance Briggs for contacting his agent Drew Rosenhaus last season.

Our buddy Matt Maiocco at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat has been on the case and has reaction from Niners general manager Scot McCloughan.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ruled Monday that the San Francisco 49ers were guilty of tampering with linebacker Lance Briggs last season.

The Bears, as a result, will now have the seventh pick in the third round of the April draft. Goodell stripped the Niners of their fifth-round pick and forced them to switch positions with the Bears in the third round. The Bears were to select 12th in the third round. The Bears do not receive the fifth-round pick from San Francisco.

If the Bears wind up with Cameron Colvin, he’ll have one heck of a life story to tell when he gets to Halas Hall.

It is one long on character, perseverance and heartache.

A blue-chip recruit for Oregon, the wide receiver never panned out in four seasons for the Ducks and has endured a life full of tragedies off the field and struggles on it. His best friend and fellow Ducks recruit Terrance Kelly was shot dead two days before they were to report as freshmen. Both of his parents died by his sophomore year in high school. His college career was marred by missed opportunities and injuries, worst of all a broken right ankle suffered in October in a game against Washington State.

But Colvin is determined to make the climb to the NFL even though he wasn’t invited to the combine last month. The Bears were one of a handful of teams present for the second Oregon pro day last Thursday, which was more or less a makeup date. Colvin was one of the Ducks who worked out for Bears scout Marty Barrett and representatives from Miami and Minnesota.

I spent some time this weekend working to catch up on all of the mock drafts going on out there and the mocking of mock drafts when I came across an interesting tidbit in the Tennessean.

Jeff Lockridge reported from the Vanderbilt pro day on Friday where offensive tackle Chris Williams was on display for a host of about 50 NFL scouts, including the Bears’ Rex Hogan. He chatted with agent Bill Johnson, who represents Williams (and Brian Urlacher), and Johnson listed the Bears, Carolina, Houston and Baltimore as potential destinations for Williams.

``We've seen quite a bit of interest,’’ Johnson told the Tennessean. ``We feel like 13 teams in the top 20 … could take a tackle.’’

Now, it’s a loaded class with talent at offensive tackle, but there isn’t that much depth if that many teams are in pursuit of tackles. Johnson’s remarks made me chuckle a little. Sure, an agent is going to say anything he can to boost the standing of his client. That’s his job. But 13?

Five weeks and counting to the NFL draft, arguably the most important selection weekend in the tenure of Bears general manager Jerry Angelo.

The Bears have holes to fill and will need to produce some players from this class that can make an immediate impact, similar to what the team had in 2006 when safety Danieal Manning, defensive end Mark Anderson and returner Devin Hester all made major contributions. There hasn’t been a lot of activity at Halas Hall of late, and we took a few days off to visit Florida but returned just in time for a lovely spring snow.

Here are some bits and pieces picked up Friday:

*** The Bears are showing a great amount of interest in Tulane running back Matt Forte. Southwest scout Chris Ballard is expected to meet with Forte over dinner Wednesday in New Orleans, and coach Lovie Smith and running backs coach Tim Spencer will travel there to meet with him April 3 and put him through a private workout the following day.

It’s in the hands of Roger Goodell now.

The commissioner and league heard both sides of the case between the Bears and San Francisco earlier today involving Lance Briggs and alleged tampering by the 49ers during last season.

Foxsports.com reported over the weekend that the Bears were headed to New York Monday to testify against the Niners, who they allege engaged in contract negotiations with Briggs’ agent Drew Rosenhaus during the season. The Bears and Niners discussed a trade of Briggs in October before the trade deadline.

Bears tracking Cherilus

| 46 Comments | No TrackBacks

The Bears tabbed guard Josh Beekman in the fourth round last year and are taking a hard look at one of his former Boston College linemates.

The Golden Eagles are holding their pro day Tuesday in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and obviously quarterback Matt Ryan will be the top draw. Almost all 32 teams are expected to be represented. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus ought to have plenty of onlookers himself. He’s projected as a potential late first-round pick, and according to Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe the Bears and New York Jets have already been in to put him through private workouts.

The Bears may be going quietly but they are not going without a fight.

While the organization has said nothing publicly about its claims the San Francisco 49ers were guilty of tampering with linebacker Lance Briggs during the 2007 season, the team’s brass is in New York for a meeting with the NFL this morning. President Ted Phillips, general manager Jerry Angelo and contract negotiator Cliff Stein are believed to be meeting with the league on the issue.

The Bears and Niners discussed a deal involving Briggs before the trade deadline in October. It never materialized, but the Bears have claimed San Francisco engaged in contract talks with Briggs and his agent Drew Rosenhaus without their permission. No contract could be done at the time for Briggs, however, because he was bound by the restrictions of the franchise tag he was playing under in 2007. Once the deadline passed for him to sign a multi-year contract in July, he could play for the $7.206 million franchise tag amount and nothing else for the season whether he was traded or not.

Trumaine McBride figured all along he would be a fifth-round draft pick.

At least he’s been compensated like one. The cornerback was the Bears’ biggest winner in the NFL’s performance-based pay system that rewards players for being on the field.

The system adopted in 2002 provides the highest payouts to players who play the most and earn the least. As a seventh-round draft pick, 221st overall, McBride received a signing bonus of $55,250 for his four-year contract with a base salary of $285,000 last season. The payout received in performance-based pay? In excess of $200,000 according to two league sources, meaning McBride will collect money commensurate to bonus pay of a fifth-round selection.

So much for WR Johnson

| 47 Comments | No TrackBacks

In the end, Bryant Johnson probably never found what he was looking for in free agency.

That's the best explanation for why the wide receiver has reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, who have rebuilt their outside targets for young quarterback Alex Smith.

The Bears had some interest in Johnson, but it's apparent that no one stepped forward with the longterm commitment he was seeking. So he goes to the Niners on a one-year deal and hopes that a strong season no longer playing in the shadow of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in Arizona will propel him to more success in free agency.

One long, bumpy season removed from an appearance in Super Bowl XLI, the Bears are out in seek of a little PR makeover.

The Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare reports today the organization has narrowed down its selection process to two local advertising agencies and a decision could come soon.

It strikes as an awfully corporate move for a mom-and-pop shop.

The Bears took a close look at a potential replacement for John Gilmore on Wednesday when they hosted Aaron Walker at Halas Hall. The most important part of the visit was likely a medical check on his shoulder, which was surgically repaired in November after he suffered a torn labrum playing for the St. Louis Rams.

General manager Jerry Angelo’s increased emphasis on football character as he prepares for the draft probably leaves him in an awkward position with Nebraska guard Carl Nicks.

Not as awkward as the one Nicks found himself in over the weekend when Lincoln, Neb., police arrested him at a house party on suspicion of being an inmate of a disorderly house and failure to disperse after he wouldn’t leave. Basically, Nicks didn’t go home when he was told to go home.

The pro day circuit is just heating up with nearly a full month ahead of showcases at schools across the country.

The Bears sent scout Rex Hogan to Knoxville, Tenn., today for Tennessee’s workout. Volunteers quarterback Erik Ainge is in a large group of projected mid-round picks who the team could be considering with a second-day pick. But it’s impossible to look too far into the their potential interest in Ainge for the simple fact that Tennessee is a huge program. You don’t skip the pro day at a top-tier SEC school any year.

The six-year contract for three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs stacks up as it was announced last week with $21.6 million of the $36 million payable in the first three seasons. Briggs’ contract will place him in the top 10 at his position in the league and he will pocket more in 2008 than he did with the $7.206 million franchise tag in 2007. Agent Drew Rosenhaus asserts it made Briggs the highest-paid weak-side linebacker in the game.

For those curious about shopping the Bears have left to do in free agency, and the ramifications of Briggs’ deal on the club’s ability to do extensions with defensive tackle Tommie Harris and returner Devin Hester, Briggs will count less than $5.5 million vs. the salary cap this season.

Mr. Smith goes to Boise

| 24 Comments | No TrackBacks

Too bad Lovie Smith didn’t have more time for his trip to Idaho Monday or we could have recommended some great spots for him to see.

The Bears coach made sure he saw the best football player the state has to offer, putting Boise State offensive tackle Ryan Clady through a private workout at the school. According to the Idaho Statesman’s Chadd Cripe, Smith also worked out some fringe line prospects in Tad Miller, Dan Gore and Jeff Cavender. We thank Chadd for the tip.

The Bears continued following quarterback prospects for the draft over the weekend.

A source said quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton was in San Diego Friday for the pro day workout of the University of San Diego’s Josh Johnson. The athletic 6-3 Johnson reportedly did a nice job rebounding from a combine workout that didn’t go so well. He’s been compared to Vince Young for the way he can turn broken plays into big ones with his feet but is considered raw and will need time to develop. Johnson is a likely second-day pick.

Picked up the specific contract details for a few of the Bears’ recent extensions. Wide receiver Marty Booker will officially sign his contract today at Halas Hall after completing a physical.

Tight end Desmond Clark received a $2 million signing bonus as part of his two-year extension that has him under contract through 2010. Clark received a $475,000 roster bonus on March 2. He has a base salary of $1 million for each of the next three seasons with roster bonuses of $475,000 to be paid in 2009 and 2010. So Clark’s two-year extension generated $4.95 million in new money for him with $2.475 million guaranteed.

The Bears currently have eight draft picks and have a decent chance to add another one in the form of a compensatory selection.

The league will award these extra draft picks at the owners meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., March 30 to April 3. Last year, 32 compensatory draft choices were distributed between the third and seventh rounds. While the Bears didn’t gain or lose any major free agents last offseason, their net loss could be enough to tip the scales for them to add a pick. The Management Council has a formula for determining who receives the picks, with a maximum of four going to one organization.

The equation is based on playing time and postseason honors. The Bears have not received a compensatory pick since getting two in 2003. They were used on running back Brock Forsey (sixth round) and guard Bryan Anderson (seventh round).

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris volunteered for a trip to visit military personnel in Afghanistan and other outposts in the Persian Gulf last week.

Now, he's on board with teammates Adewale Ogunleye and Israel Idonije for a humanitarian trip to Nigeria.

The adventure has been put together by Houston defensive lineman Amobi Okoye, and joining them will be New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora and Texans running back Ahman Green.

Marty Booker arrives in town Monday to take a physical and officially sign the $3.5 million, two-year contract he agreed to last week.

A little more than two weeks after general manager Jerry Angelo talked about the ``transition’’ the Bears offense is going through, we’ve got a better idea what’s going on.

They are hoping a short-term solution at quarterback—a competition between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton—provides a longterm answer. They’ve added some bargain buys in Booker and Brandon Lloyd at wide receiver in a market that has seen huge money thrown at Bernard Berrian, who has yet to have a 1,000-yard season, and Javon Walker, who has been healthy once in the last three years. And the Bears have continued down the path of locking up their own, extending tight end Desmond Clark and laying the groundwork for extensions with kicker Robbie Gould, defensive tackle Tommie Harris and wide receiver Devin Hester.

The NFL has released the tentative draft order for April.

The exact order will not be finalized until compensatory picks are awarded. There's a chance the Bears could be in line for an extra pick, maybe a seventh rounder.

Their picks as it stands now:

Round-Pick-Overall

1-14-14
2-13-44
3-12-75
3-27-90 (from San Diego)
4-11
5-9 (from Carolina)
6-9
7-15

Note: The overall number for picks from round four on down will not be determined until compensation picks are determined.

After Ron Turner got everyone back on track for the quarterback derby between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, the Bears offensive coordinator covered topics that went beyond new wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.

The Q&A on a teleconference this afternoon:


Q: Thoughts on Brandon?

A: “I think Brandon’s a playmaker. Like he said, I’ve known him since he was 17 years old, recruited him out of high school, was with him three years at Illinois. He was very productive down there, so I’ve got a good feel for what he can do. [Receivers coach] Darryl Drake and I went back and looked at all his film as we do any available free agent, looked at his game film from the last couple years and feel he can still play and that hopefully he can come in and be a good fit with the receivers that we have here right now, he can fit in well with them and we’re looking forward to that competition.”

Brandon Lloyd ran the wrong route.

In a teleconference Friday afternoon after he signed a one-year contract with the Bears, Lloyd was asked how the quarterback situation was explained to him.

``Rex Grossman is the starter. Coach Ron Turner and coach Lovie [Smith] think very highly of him, and Kyle Orton, they think very highly of him also. I think that as a receiver, it’s really our jobs to make those guys look good and it’s their job to make us look good too. It’s just going to be a hand-in-hand relationship maybe I could say for all of us to get better because I think that’s really what it comes down to. We are really at a pivotal point in our careers where we really need to lean on each other and help each other out to really become what we want to become in this league.”

Oops. So much for the Great QB Battle of 2008. And we thought Grossman and Orton received nearly identical contract extensions last month with identical bonus money for a reason.

The Bears have agreed to terms with wide receiver Brandon Lloyd on a one-year contract.

Lloyd played for offensive coordinator Ron Turner at Illinois and can provide a speed threat with Bernard Berrian departed.

The Bears agreed to terms with wide receiver Marty Booker on Tuesday night, reuniting him with the team that drafted him in the third round in 1999.

Could it be another receiver is headed home?

Justin McCareins, the Naperville North and Northern Illinois product, has drawn some interest from the Bears.

Tying together the loose ends from another busy offseason day even if the Bears did not sign any free agents Thursday ...

Wide receiver Marty Booker, fresh off a Jamaican vacation, checked in on a conference call. Some highlights:

Q: What are your thoughts on returning to the Bears?

A: It’s good to be back. Plus, No. 1 it’s good to have a job. For a point there I was pretty worried about whether it was going to happen or not. To finally have a job and to be back with the team I started with is awesome.

Q: What do you make of the quarterback situation?

A: I’m not too familiar with Kyle [Orton], I’m pretty familiar with Rex [Grossman]. My understanding, I am thinking it will be an open competition and whoever wins the job is going to have it. No matter who is in there, I will be supportive of whoever, just going out there and trying to make plays. That’s pretty much all I know right now, how it’s going down.

Wide receiver Marty Booker mulled the possibility of signing with the New England Patriots, but said Thursday on a conference call that the opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver with the Bears helped him make his decision.

Terry Bradshaw, who the Bears lost out on in the 1969 draft in a pre-draft coin flip with the Steelers, visited with WMVP-AM 1000 this morning to weigh in on the retirement of Brett Favre in Green Bay.

He also touched base on Rex Grossman:

"I’m a Rex Grossman fan. When he’s good, he’s really good. When he’s bad, he’s really bad. I think he’s got the perfect demeanor to play in the NFL. Simply because he has a bad game, and he goes, "What, so I had a bad day, so what?'' It kind of cracks me up. But I truly believe it just doesn’t phase him. He drives you Bears fans nuts.

Two-time Pro Bowl special teams player Brendon Ayanbadejo has chosen to sign a contract with the Baltimore Ravens. It is a four-year deal worth $4.925 million. The contract is front loaded and will pay him $3.355 million in the first two years.

Ayanbadejo went to the last two Pro Bowls as a member of the Bears after being a first alternate in 2005.

He is the second player to leave via free agency, following wide receiver Bernard Berrian.

Boise State offensive tackle Ryan Clady performed at his pro day workout Monday before a large assembly of NFL personnel, the Idaho Statesman reports.

Clady had a vertical leap of 31 inches and a broad jump of nine feet. His 40-yard dash was 5.18 seconds, but that's not a key measuring stick for offensive linemen. How often is Clady going to be throwing blocks 40 yards downfield?

From the story: "Everyone, to a man, said he blew them away. He was extremely athletic, extremely quick," his agent Pat Dye Jr. said after the session. "Quick hands. Quick feet. That's what you look for in a great pass blocker and that's what they pay people in this league at his position to do."

Special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo said via text message that he will choose Thursday between contract offers from the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens.

He visited the New York Jets starting Monday and went to Baltimore Tuesday to meet with the Ravens. Both teams have offered four-year contracts, believed to be worth about $1.5 million annually.

Ayanbadejo said he will present his final offer to the Bears to see if they are interested in matching it. The Bears announced on their Web site Monday that they were no longer pursuing him. Their last contract offer was for $800,000 less than he is currently looking at. The deals proposed by New York and Baltimore are similar.

When the Bears’ quarterback carousel underwent renovations with the arrival of head coach Dick Jauron in 1999, things took off.

The franchise that has been seeking to find a franchise quarterback since Sid Luckman hung up his leather helmet in 1950 (well, he at least began playing with a leather one in 1939) started going through candidates faster than you could change the pages of a calendar. It was more like a pitching rotation and that kind of activity helped them become the team with the most starting quarterbacks during the ironman streak of Brett Favre.

Favre’s run, which began Sept. 27, 1992 against Cincinnati, came to an end Tuesday when news of his retirement exploded.

The Bears finished with 21 different starters during Favre’s streak of 253 consecutive starts. Next? Washington with 18.

Don’t rule him out just yet.

That’s what Brendon Ayanbadejo said from a hotel Tuesday night in Baltimore.

In an odd twist to his foray into free agency, the two-time Pro Bowl special teams player said there is still a possibility he will return to the Bears a day after the club announced on its Web site that a four-year contract offer to him had been rescinded. Ayanbadejo has had a whirlwind 48 hours. He was at the Beverly Hills (Calif.) Hotel Sunday night receiving an award from the UCLA Black Alumni Association.

The next day, while Ayanbadejo traveled across country for a visit with the New York Jets, the Bears announced they were moving on without him. Ayanbadejo met with Jets officials Monday night and again Tuesday morning before flying to Baltimore.

Three days after losing Bernard Berrian to the Minnesota Vikings, the Bears have brought back a receiver they have always called their own.

Marty Booker agreed to a two-year contract Tuesday night. Booker, who holds the franchise record with 100 receptions from 2001, had interest from the New England Patriots into Tuesday that could have been affected when the team re-signed Jabar Gaffney.

Ex-Bears tight end John Gilmore collected a $1 million signing bonus when he signed his three-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday morning, according to PewterReport.com.

Gilmore's deal is worth $3 million with a base salary of $750,000 this season, $1 million in 2009 and $1.25 million in 2010.

Jimmy Kennedy is a Jaguar.

As expected, the Bears officially declined to match the offer sheet the defensive tackle signed with Jacksonville on Monday. Kennedy signed a one-year contract for $605,000 (the minimum for a veteran with five years service) and a $50,000 signing bonus.

Bears coach Lovie Smith released a statement on the retirement of Brett Favre this afternoon:

“I think this announcement comes about 17 years too late and I don’t know if I will completely believe it until Green Bay opens the season without No. 4 lining up under center. In all seriousness, no one has given more to our game than Brett Favre. I have spent the better part of my NFL coaching career working on game plans to beat him. There is no player I respect more. He is one of the all-time greats to ever play in the NFL. He was a tremendous leader and the ultimate competitor on Sundays. I wish him and his family the very best.”

You can play with the numbers all day to display Brett Favre’s dominance over the Bears.

With five touchdown passes this past season against Detroit and Minnesota both, he finishes with more against them than the Bears.

Green Bay’s sweep of the Lions in 2007 and the Bears’ sweep of the Packers means Favre finishes with 23 wins against Detroit and 22 vs. the Bears.

But all the yards, touchdowns, late drives and dramatic plays don’t tell the story of Favre’s dominance over the Bears.

The most telling statistic, and the reason why the Bears have had only five winning seasons since Favre joined the Packers in 1992 has to do with their own ineptitude at quarterback.

It was in one of the Bears-Packers meetings shortly after Lovie Smith’s staff was assembled in 2004 that then defensive coordinator Ron Rivera got together with Brett Favre at midfield before the game.

They are the kind of conversations that can happen on a lake fishing, on a shady porch on a hot summer day, or at the end of the bar in a tavern. Tales are told and sometimes legends are expanded.

This time, with Rivera and Favre in a group of people, Rivera reminded the quarterback just how long ago he stopped playing—1992—the first year for Favre with the Packers.

Happens to be the last of Rivera’s seven career sacks came against Favre.

The Bears were on their way to a 30-10 rout of Green Bay on Oct. 25, 1992, at Lambeau Field—just the fourth start of Favre's career—when Rivera was sent in as a rush end at the start of the fourth quarter with injuries forcing him from his linebacker position.

Yes, Lovie Smith has had Brett Favre's number for a while.

The Bears are 6-2 vs. the Packers since Smith took over as head coach in 2004, including a sweep over the NFC North champion Packers this past season.

But Favre has dominated the Bears in his career with a record of 22-10 against them.

The future Hall of Famer has reportedly decided to retire after 17 seasons.

Tom Brady was once a sixth-round draft pick.

There’s no saying the Bears will come up with the next future Hall of Fame quarterback from that round, but that is the 2009 draft pick they received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for quarterback Brian Griese on Monday.

General manager Jerry Angelo and college scouting director Greg Gabriel have founds success in later rounds.

Tommie Harris is taking his act global.

The defensive tackle is headed to Afghanistan to interact with U.S. troops as part of an NFL-USO tradition that is now four decades old.

Harris heads overseas with San Diego Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo, the Northwestern product, and Carolina Panthers defensive end Mike Rucker. Castillo will maintain a diary for chargers.com.

Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy has signed a one-year offer sheet with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the veteran minimum of $605,000. The deal includes a $50,000 signing bonus making it worth $655,000.

The Bills rolled out wide receiver Bryant Johnson in front of media in Buffalo, but as the Buffalo News’ Mark Gaughan notes, it’s not in front of the team banner. So no deal is in place yet.

Chicago truly is Second City when it comes to paying linebackers.

Lance Briggs, the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker, and two-time All-Pro choice, wasn’t exactly enthusiastic when he discussed his return to the Bears Sunday evening on a conference call. Briggs agreed to terms on a $36 million, six-year contract that includes $13 million guaranteed Saturday evening.

While it’s not exactly small potatoes when stacking it up to what the New York Jets landed Calvin Pace—the Calvin Pace—with, it’s not in the same ballpark. Pace received a $42 million, six-year contract from the freewheeling Jets (same overall dollar amount and years as receiver Bernard Berrian got in Minnesota). Pace pulls down a $20 million signing bonus and $22 million guaranteed. He will collect $26 million in the first three years of the deal, according to ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli.

The Bears have pulled out of contract discussions with two-time Pro Bowl special teams player Brendon Ayanbadejo, meaning he is headed elsewhere.

Yes, Brian Griese's first preference would have been to become a free agent last week.

That didn't happen.

But of the 31 outposts the Bears could have traded him to, he's probably most happy to be returning to Tampa Bay where the head coach Jon Gruden is a fan of his, and he already knows the playbook.

The Bears will get value for quarterback Brian Griese after all.

The team is expected to finalize a trade for him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this afternoon. Check back for more details soon.

It is expected quarterback Brian Griese will be granted his release Monday if the Bears are unsuccessful in efforts to trade the veteran.

Griese is due a $300,000 roster bonus Tuesday, and the only other option would be to pay it and hold out hope a team comes calling so the Bears could, in essence, buy a late-round draft pick for the amount of the check they have to write him. That, however, would produce a great deal of ill will between him and the team and would not go over well with veterans in the locker room and around the league.

In that scenario, the Bears would also run the risk of colliding head on with one of those sticky situations where the club does not want the player working out because if he is injured he would lose any value and put the team on the hook for money remaining in the contract. But if the Bears denied Griese the right to work at the facility, he could file a grievance. It’s similar to what happened to Steve McNair in his messy exit from Tennessee, and it will all be avoided if Griese is released as anticipated.

Lance Briggs Q&A

| 3 Comments | No TrackBacks

Lance Briggs spoke with media in a conference call Sunday evening.

Below is a transcript of the questions and answers.

DID YOU GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A WHILE AND HOW RELIEVED ARE YOU TO HAVE THIS OVER WITH?

I’m very relieved. I’m very, very relieved. I can take some time to plan out my future and know where I’m going to be. That’s always relieving.

DO YOU HAVE TO READJUST YOUR MIND SET NOW? I KNOW FOR A MINUTE YOU PROBABLY THOUGHT YOU WERE OUT OF HERE?

I’m familiar. That is one place that I am real familiar with. Adjusting to Chicago, I’ve been used to Chicago for the last five years so that’s not bad, not bad at all.

Lance Briggs just wrapped up a conference call where he touted his deal as being in line with what the New England Patriots paid linebacker Adalius Thomas a year ago.

The math works, sort of, if you factor in the franchise tag Briggs played under last season that paid him $7.206 million. If he knew then what he knows now, maybe the tag wouldn't have been such a big deal.

But Thomas bagged $20 million guaranteed from the Patriots. Briggs gets $13 million guaranteed in a $36 million, six-year contract. He will collect $21.6 over the first three years of the deal, and will be at $28.8 million for four years when factoring in his 2007 pay. But the contracts themselves are not similar.

The Burner won’t be laying down tire tracks here.

ESPN.com reports that running back Michael Turner, the Northern Illinois product, has agreed to a $34.5 million, six-year contract. The deal includes $15 million guaranteed.

A day after Minnesota’s blockbuster signing of wide receiver Bernard Berrian, league insiders are still wowed by the $42 million, six-year contract he received from the Vikings. There’s a price to pay when doing damage to your division rival. The Bears have only two wide receivers under contract—Mark Bradley and Devin Hester—who have caught a pass in an NFL game.

The Vikings have a proven deep threat that is going to force opponents to think twice about stacking eight defenders in the box to stop the two-headed rushing attack of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. Before you throw darts at the Vikings for overpaying, recall they had the most lucrative offer extended to Kevin Curtis last offseason and he spurned them for Philadelphia. A good offense got better.

It’s been hailed as one of the three or four best contracts for a wide receiver in the league. And it goes to a guy who has yet to make a Pro Bowl or have a 1,000-yard season. But consider there is some projecting involved with the contract. Berrian played with Bears quarterbacks, several of them, and it’s not fair to pass judgment on an offensive player on this team over the last four seasons.

The Bears changed starting quarterbacks 10 times in Berrian’s four seasons. It went like this—Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman, Orton, Grossman, Brian Griese, Grossman, Orton.

We’ve got a good handle on how the numbers stacked up for Berrian all along, including when the Bears first went to him last June with a contract proposal that included $8 million guaranteed.

Jimmy Kennedy stands in a class by himself.

The veteran defensive tackle is the only player in the league who has more than four years service and has rights that can be controlled by his former team.

The Bears have the right of first refusal to match any contract Kennedy signs with one of the 31 other clubs. It was a clause the Bears had written into the contract when they signed Kennedy Dec. 11. The former first-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams had been on the street since being cut at the beginning of September by the Denver Broncos. Bears coach Lovie Smith was the defensive coordinator of the Rams when they chose Kennedy, and he reported to the Bears at 6-4, 320 pounds, in much better shape than he was in St. Louis.

What are the chances the Bears lose Rashied Davis in restricted free agency?

Slim.

The wide receiver was tendered at the low level of $927,000, and the Bears will not receive compensation for him if another club signs him to an offer sheet and they decline to match it. But how much money is going to be thrown at a No. 4/slot receiver with good ability on special teams? If it’s a fair contract there is a good chance the Bears would just match an offer sheet and thank the other team for negotiating the deal for them. That’s what happened with defensive lineman Israel Idonije two years ago when the Buffalo Bills attempted to lure him away as an RFA.

Reflecting on another whirlwind day in free agency ... boy, that came together quickly between Bernard Berrian and Lance Briggs Saturday afternoon. The foes from their high school days—Berrian was on the losing end at Atwater, Calif., High against Briggs at Elk Grove (Sacramento, Calif.)—cashed in just hours apart.

It’s a good bet Berrian’s deal of $42 million over six seasons will resonate as the biggest stunner in free agency this year. More stunning than the complete lack of a market for Briggs, who is in position to net $43.2 million over seven seasons when you factor in the franchise tag he played for last season.

But the money Briggs got is not too far off the $33 million, seven-year extension the team put in front of him two years ago. A lot of that money would already be in the bank. When you weigh the money he got playing for the tag last season, it probably comes out about even. Of course, now he’s further away from another contract. The bottom line is the Bears retained an elite defensive player who can only help the unit improve after a disappointing 2007.

Need more Bernard Berrian?

Jump in. Here is a transcript of the press conference held in Winter Park, Minn., Saturday night introducing him as the Vikings' $42 million man.

Head Coach Brad Childress: OK, a couple of things before I introduce Bernard Berrian to you. This really ends up being a tremendous collaborative effort here, whether it starts with our travel people coordinating this whole thing. I can't say enough about the effort that Rick Spielman and George Paton, as well as Jeff (Robinson) and Ryan Monnens and Scott Kuhn have done and filtered through this pro personnel. Obviously the coaches have their hand in that as well, and then Dave Blando and Rob Brzezinski sitting there and hammering it out. I sat in there and listened today and I get more nervous in doing some of that stuff than I do standing on the sideline for Pete's sake. I had to get up and walk out a couple of times. Like I said, a tremendous collaborative effort and I would be remiss in not mentioning the Wilfs as I always do about their ability to spend, quite frankly. You've got to have the willingness to want to be good. They trust us to identify those people and then Rob and Dave and Rick to hammer out a great deal. I'm grateful for all of those people, and as I mentioned, it's a good team. Then a few words about Bernard Berrian; i, a, n, you know there is a large Armenian population in Fresno, some of you may or may not know. Bernard is not Armenian however with the i, a, n at the end of his name. We talked about heritage last night, right? We had a great visit here and had to keep him busy all day long with video games, etc., a lot of different things going through his head. On a more serious note, I'm very excited to have Bernard. Being able to watch him up close here over the last four years and grow, we've watched his receiving total grow each in every year. A little known fact about him, he is a tremendous return guy. Not that we'll use him in that area, but he's led the country before in the return game at Fresno State, both punt and kickoff return, so that's a little added bonus. Then I've gotten a chance to see him compete at a very high level, and competes are what it's all about. I'll answer some questions afterward, but I'm very excited to introduce you to Bernard. It's always nice to be able to take somebody from a divisional opponent in Chicago and make them weaker and make you stronger. Without further ado, Bernard.

Bernard Berrian’s contract is considered by league insiders to be the third- or fourth-best deal in the league for wide receivers. Drew Rosenhaus is not one of those league insiders. He’d rank the deal No. 1.

But in talking to sources from multiple organizations, they said the numbers land Berrian in elite class. You can play Twister with contract numbers and make them say about anything you want, but when you examine the $23 million Berrian will pocket over the first three years of the contract, and the $7 million he will average annually with the Vikings, it’s right up there. Berrian's deal has $16 million guaranteed and totals $42 million over six seasons.

Briggs agrees to deal

| 33 Comments | No TrackBacks

Lance Briggs has agreed to a $36 million, six-year contract to remain with the Bears.

More information is trickling in on the Bernard Berrian deal.

Berrian will receive a $16 million signing bonus.

It sounds like some small details may still be worked out, but agent Drew Rosenhaus got Bernard Berrian substantially closer to the money he was seeking Saturday afternoon than was on the table for him Friday night.

Word is Berrian will collect $42 million over the six years of the deal and be paid $23 million in the first three seasons.

Berrian was seeking $24.5 million over the first three years of a contract.

No announcement has come out of Minnesota yet, but multiple league sources indicate an announcement is forthcoming that wide receiver Bernard Berrian will sign a contract with the Vikings.

It is expected to be a six-year deal.

Bernard Berrian remained at the Vikings headquarters in Winter Park, Minn., as it moved past noon today.

When Vikings personnel boss Rick Spielman was asked if the team was still negotiating with the wide receiver, he told media at the facility, ``Well, he’s not here to visit Minnesota.’’

The market is not going to wait for the Bears to make a move.

To that end, wide receiver Bryant Johnson is headed to Buffalo to pay the Bills a visit, the NFL Network has reported. The Bears looked into the possibility of bringing him in on Friday.

Wide receiver Bernard Berrian has not been the only player at the top of the Minnesota Vikings' shopping list.

They were also hopeful to snag defensive end Justin Smith.

That goal was erased this morning when news broke that Smith has agreed to a contract with he San Francisco 49ers. He was supposed to fly to Minneapolis today, but never got off the ground -- on an airplane anyway -- as the Niners reeled him in with a six-year deal worth $45 million.

John Gilmore is officially a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He signed his three-year contract this morning after passing a team physical.


Twitter updates

Categories

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2008 is the previous archive.

April 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.