Once again, the Bears are optimistic about the return of safety Mike Brown and the contributions the veteran can make to the defense.
It’s not unlike any of the past three offseasons when he was coming back from an injury. This time, the Bears will have some protection in the event he’s injured and misses a significant portion of the season.
The Bears and Brown have agreed to a restructuring of his contract for the final year of the $17 million, five-year extension he agreed to in 2003.
Brown can still earn the $2.44 million he was on the books for, but he has to play to pocket it.
His base pay has been reduced to $950,000 with the remaining $1.49 million now in the form of a not-likely-to-be-earned incentive. It’s considered a NLTBE incentive because whatever the play-time trigger is to earn him the pay (that percentage of snaps is not known) is greater than he had last season. Obviously, that doesn’t take much considering Brown went out in the season opener at San Diego with a torn ACL in his left knee. Inside the Bears isn’t going to venture a guess as to what the clause is, but suffice to say it’s more than 1/16 of the snaps.
There is a split in Brown's contract too. If he's injured prior to the start of the season and forced onto injured reserve, the club can reduce his base pay to $320,000. Getting through training camp and the preseason has not been his problem, although he did sit out the 2006 preseason.
This provides the club with protection in the event Brown breaks down again. There has to be some concern about his ability to play free safety given that he’s had leg injuries for four straight years—Achilles tendon, calf muscle, Lisfranc ligament and the knee. Eventually, that wear and tear is going to take a toll on a 30-year-old.
Coach Lovie Smith has had nothing but glowing remarks when it comes to Brown. General manager Jerry Angelo has been a little more reserved, saying he knows the club cannot count on Brown.
We’ll get a first look at him Wednesday at the OTA open to media.