Chicago Sun-Times

UPDATED 9:05 a.m.: Bears make decision it's Miller time, bring back veteran tackle

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After a month of talking with Fred Miller about a return to the the Bears, the club and the player have reached agreement.

A source close to the player said the 35-year-old offensive tackle will sign a one-year contract to serve as a backup offensive tackle and should be on the practice field this afternoon at Halas Hall.

Miller worked out for the Bears on Tuesday and after the team swung and missed in its bid to claim James Marten, a third-round pick from Dallas in 2007 who was released Saturday, off waivers on Monday, it apparently went back to Plan A and got a deal done with Miller.

He adds a veteran presence to the line where rookie seventh-round pick Kirk Barton has been serving as the swing tackle. Apparently the club determined more security was needed.

We'll check back with more details when we track them down.

UPDATED: With Miller at Halas Hall signing his contract, his agent Harold Lewis felt comfortable going on the record.

Miller signed a one-year contract for the minimum-salary benefit. That means he'll earn a little more than $781,000 this season to go along with a $40,000 signing bonus. He turned down more money from the Bucs and Ravens.

"It's an opportunity I am glad Fred did not pass up," Lewis said. "It was not about the money for him, ever. These are just days he will never forget. For players it's not so much the games as it is the time in between spent with teammates and coaches. They wanted him back and Fred wanted to return.

"They're hopeful their tackles hold up for the rest of the season and [Chris] Willams the draft pick steps in and is a solid player. Fred is an insurance policy and he's a good policy to have when you're a team spending $120 million trying to get to the Super Bowl. He's an insurance policy they will have for the rest of the year and I'm glad it worked out this way."

*** The Bears just announced rookie seventh-round pick Kirk Barton has been waived to make room for Miller.

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26 Comments

So long Mark Bradley, it was frustrating while it lasted ... or does Jerry Angelo grow a brain and IR Williams for the year like he should have done?

Why, why, why?

Miller is a decent guy. He was a good player for a lot of years, but why now?

BRILLIANT!!! Let's waive a young offensive tackle who has looked good in preseason and good enough to make the team so we can bring back an old, out-of-the-league offensive tackle for one season ... just so we don't have to IR Chris Williams and Jerry Angelo doesn't look bad!

For those who think I am too critical of Angelo, please tell me how this helps the Bears? If Barton doesn't make it to the practice squad, that means we lost a potential replacement for Tait in a year or two just to bring back Miller who was BAD last season.

Why would you let go of a decent tackle prospect who is only playing backup right now anyway and has a chance to learn, for a 35 yr old who just had ankle surgery and didn't play well last year? That must have been one hell of a workout yesterday. I would have sent Toeania packing with Erwin Baldwin already on the practice squad.

I guess this means Crhis williams rehab going well, otherwise I would think they would ahve put him on IR and kept barton.

I personally would have waived toeina before barton, but hopefully barton clears waivers and we can put him on the practice squad
thanks for being on top of this brad!

terrible move. He'll need at least 2-3 weeks to get into game shape. If either of the T's goes down this weekend, he'll have to go in and play against Peppers. Why?????

They're going to put Barton on the practice squad but he looks good and someone could put a claim in on him.

Angelo, what are you doing????

ahhhh, thank you brAD. all this winning and good felings by bears fans almsot put an end to youre old buddy crap-ton. but now i can b*tch and complain about how stupid he bears and angelo is. well, he brought back fred miller so angelo is stupid. man, i am always right!

i now how jellous the rest of you must be. i bet you wish you could always right and always give facts and always be right lke me. but like my mom use to say, keep dreaming sailor!

anyway the everything is back to normal, time to paint my toenails....

Nobody said ANGELOOSE is brilliant guys. Look at his first round picks, and second rounders too. The great Daniel Manning triplet son of Archie, Naval Captain Cedric Beenthere, Marc Detective Columbo, Mark Milton Bradley, Thanks Johnson, Dan Baaaaazuuuui....???, Mike Ohno, Chris "I have no cartilage left" Williams, and I almost forgot Irunformylifesaurus Rex, and Wait till we get our Michael Haines on you!! Dear Virginia Mckaskey will you draft for us from now on. Maybe Drew Peterson could draft for us. Lets not forget Roosevelt Willaims....Chris Williams biological twin, and Terrence Metlife. Help us

DCofDC, Crap-ton,Creighton and all the other naysayers this is when I question Jerry Angelo.
I know Fred Miller was signed 1 games into the season so the Bears didnt have to pay him his full pay but this is a bad move. Not sure if Miller was injured or what his problem was, he looked old, slow and unable to hold defenders down. Horrible just plain bad!

Not that this move is gonna hurt the Bears in a significant way but it sure doesnt help them in any way. I could be wrong lets hope so.

DCoDC wrote:
For those who think I am too critical of Angelo, please tell me how this helps the Bears? If Barton doesn't make it to the practice squad, that means we lost a potential replacement for Tait in a year or two just to bring back Miller who was BAD last season."

I will bite. It is straight forward DCoDC.

This tells you that the team thinks they have a window of competing for the NFC this year. First, they get OG Dan Buenning from TB for the same 6th rounder we got from them for Griese. Miller's contract is not guaranteed -- no contract need be if signed after the 1st week of the season. Miller's is not.

You can't go with 10 OL without leaving yourself open to injuries elsewhere. Most special teamers are backups and the only place you used backup OL for special teams is on PATs / FG.

The Bears believe that Miller is an upgrade over a rookie late 7th rounder for a minimum non-guaranteed salary one year salary. Miller will be a backup. And as a backup he is more advanced than rookie Barton would be in a run for the playoffs. I agree.

Rookie OL that are helpful on contending teams are more rare than praise for Bears management on this board. Last year the Browns did well with OT Thomas (#3 overall) but he is the exception not the rule.

Kreutz said it best this training camp when he referred to his own rookie year (3rd round, #64 overall in 1998) where he started one game for Tood Perry at Guard and was active for only nine games that he did not know much as a rookie. So having a veteran that know the timing and working with Garza on the right side and knows the playbook is an upgrade over a rookie who was drafted 247 overall and sixth from last.

And if you don't believe me then look at what the Bears DL did to the Colts OL that had a rookie C, and too new Guards. That was where the game was won. If you are still in disagreement then how about former NFL player Matt Bowen who writes for this paper and gave an excellent review of what we won. We confused the inexperienced OL of the Colts.

So this misplaced praise for Barton over Miller is unfounded.

My guess is Tait is now the swing tackle if St. Clair goes down. Miller then becomes the right tackle.

My guess is if Barton clears waivers he goes to practice squad and OG Perry is waived. Long-term if Barton clears waivers and gets to the practice squad he might be the answer or more likely the Bears continue to draft on the first day OL. We still have an old OL and we need to address it in future drafts.

I live in the land of Redskins and they also have an aging OL and it will cost the Skins this year just as it did for us last year.

So if you and the rest of the folks want to throw Angelo and Lovie out of town then tell me which Bear's GM has done better. Two. Jim Finks of the late 70's to mid 80's who left when he was not consulted on bringing in DaCoach and Papa Bear himself of the 30's and 40's.

This team and this organization is in better shape than any time other the Bears drafted by Finks of the mid-to-late-80's.

Kevin,

I disagree with your reasoning. Miller was bad last season and that's why Chicago cut him loose. So now he comes back out of shape and with no training camp to be our swing tackle?

As for Barton being a 7th-round pick, isn't that what the Angelo defenders try to say time and again: draft status doesn't count for shinola. Barton can play and was good enough to keep around. And keeping 9 lineman is a bit of a misnomer conisdering we are only keeping 8 able bodies and a 1st-round pick who's 1) rehabbing a back injury, 2) has no training camp and 3) will have to get back into shape just to HOPEFULLY contribute in the last half of this season ... oh, and we're not even sure he can play at an NFL level yet.

MD Kevin, good take on the MIller signing, they guy wants to make good on his career in a Bears uniform. He played hurt last year, hope this proves out to be a good move. Da Coach and I do want to see youth injected into the o-line, Barton was solid in pre-season and has shown promise, it will be hard to get him through waivers to get back on the practice squad. Right now the only young player on the o-line is Beekman who is showing promise, until we deceide what to do with Metcalf, then it will be hard to build depth there with the 53 man limit. Angelo is trying to shore team up for a playoff run we will see if this is a good move. If they get Barton to practice squad look for him to hit the 53 if Williams proves out to not to be able to return late in the season, and them adding Adams once he is eligible to come back from injury settlement.....Go BEARS

I just think that JA believes he can sneak Barton thru waivers onto the practice squad. We will have to wait and see what happens. I know that there are a lot of us out here who think that Barton might be a good player someday. I read that he was a very fine special teams player. Now we wait...

DCoDC,

I am assuming that you talking about and not Kevin A. Your writing was not clear.

I think we are going to have to disagree. I still think a veteran who knows the playbook is better than a 7th rounder with no experience. Was Miller bad last year? Sure. Maybe he it was his ankle, maybe not. No one called and told me.

Still I stand by the belief that veteran offensive linemen are needed over late round rookies for contending teams. Remember if Miller can't cut it -- and he worked out before the signing so the coaches must think otherwise -- we can always rely on the pro scouts led by Bobby DePaul for a replacement. They have done the job in the past.

Again my point is a veteran such as Miller is more valuable for the 53 man roster than rookie Barton is. Barton is a classic practice squad candidate. Barton's chance to help us in next year and the subsequent years. Miller has 2008 only.

And my exhibit is how the Colts inexperienced OL performed against a veteran defense on Sunday. I cite Bowen as a source.

I have yet to hear you say anything other than your opinion. I have backed my opinion with confirmations.

So DCoDC please tell me of a contending team that relied on rookies on the O line over veterans?

Fan55 & Chitownbear,

You are both correct. Getting Barton through the waivers is a risk. And our OL needs to get younger.

Remember if Barton is claimed he has to go on the 53 roster of the claiming team. That means a team that is probably not contending. If he clears waivers then he is a free agent and he will be able to choose which team's practice squad he joins. Since he knows the Bears and the Bears know him means if he clears that he will come to our practice squad.

But the one thing I have learned after living outside of Chicago for a number of years is we tend to overvalue our own prospects more than they are worth.

As for the future, I fully expect the Bears to select OL on the first day of the draft for the next few years. Tait is only a year younger than Miller. Garza and Kruetz are both over 30.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Is what I usually would say in this situation. But the coaches and management proved a lot of us wrong last sunday night so I'll wait and see on this. Could be good, could be bad.

Btw, interesting analysis of all this MD Kev.

MD Kevin: "And my exhibit is how the Colts inexperienced OL performed against a veteran defense on Sunday. I cite Bowen as a source.
I have yet to hear you say anything other than your opinion. I have backed my opinion with confirmations.
So DCoDC please tell me of a contending team that relied on rookies on the O line over veterans?"

You just committed what is called a straw-man argument (among other logical fallacies).
Let's see, how many teams rely on rookies on the O line over veterans? How about Indianapolis. They are a contender right? They went with a rookie BACKUP center right? They were beat ONCE by a good defense so therefore Chicago should bring back Fred Miller? Do you see the gap in your logic?

I could say, we need Bruce Gradkowski (a 6th-round QB) to backup Kyle Orton. You know why? Because when (possible HOF'er) Drew Bledsoe went down, a 6th-round QB took the Patriots to the Super Bowl. You see I have backed my opinion with confirmations.
So MD Kevin please tell me why shouldn't Chicago pursue a 6th-round QB backing up their starter?

You see how fun logical fallacies can be? You proved nothing and it's your opinion based upon not only a completely different situation .. but only one ASPECT of a many faceted situation (e.g. was it the center's fault, the young guards, what if they went with a rookie tackle instead of a center, what if it was because Manning was still rusty, what if it was because the defense was doing a great job of disguising their plays).

The FACTS I base my OPINION on is I saw Fred Miller suck out loud last season ... even you agreed with that. I know that Fred Miller was bad enough to cut, that is a fact. I know he has not practiced with any team and is out of football shape - that is fact with a little common sense. Based upon those facts (mixed with common sense) I did not want to see Fred Miller return. I sure as hell did not want to see him return at the expense of a young tackle who played very well in college and looked good during the preseason (those are facts as well as subjective opinion though that opinion seems to relatively well-held belief on these boards and others). Those are my FACTS not idiotic logical fallacies disguised as "fact".

What a joke! It's not even funny What? Stan Thomas, Qasim Mitchell, and Dan Jiggets were all busy?

The Bears made it to the penthouse with their win over Indianapolis, now, the signing of Fred Miller puts them in the outhouse.

GUARANTEED Kirk Barton gets picked up ASAP!

TERRIBLE MOVE, ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE MOVE!!

After settling down upon reading the news of Miler's return, I have a possible reason why he's back. And, that is John Tait may have an injury and has been trying to play through it.

Tait isn't get much movement on defenders on run plays, is lumbering to drive the rushing ends past Orton on pass plays, and looks to be a step behind everyone else.

So, Miller may be more of a replacement for Tait than anything else. If Tait were to go down, Miller would step in at RT, St. Clair would get the reps at LT until Williams is healthy. Then, St. Clair or Buenning csn be moved to LG if Beekman doesn't do the job.

This all is a stretch, but, it's the only way for me to explain why on earth Miller would get resigned.

I will try to support Jerry Angelo, and the Bears did just beat one of the toughest teams on the road. With that being said, I strongly disagree with this move. The only way this o-line is going to get better is by getting younger, this move makes no sense to me?? Why did Angelo even cut Miller in the first place, only to sign him back on??? Also, how much better can 35 year old Miller be than rookie Kirk Barton?? I guess, Miller probably does have a better grasp of the offense than Barton. Maybe Tait is more banged up than we as fans know, if so, I can see Miller coming in for Tait if he gets worse and worse, injury & play wise. Hopefully Barton makes it through waivers, and the Bears can place him on their practice squad. The past 10 years or so, the Bears have never been known to give their rookie o-linemen a chance, other than 1st rounder Mark Columbo, guys like Beekman and Kreutz had to wait a season before getting a chance, this is just how the Bears develope their young linemen, not saying I necessarily agree, this just seems to be the way they do things. If I were the GM I would have went with Barton, but Im just a fan, what do I know?? Oh well, the Bears are 1-0 GO BEARS!!

"This team and this organization is in better shape than any time other the Bears drafted by Finks of the mid-to-late-80's."

Boy is that a retarded red herring, and exactly what you'd expect to hear from an Angelo sock puppet. The valid comparison is not to the Finks teams, but to the reasonable permutations of players we could have had during the Angelo years without Angelo.

Miller knows the offense, has played next to Garza and if healthy can most likely maintain the position this year better than a rookie. In the long run this might be a bad move if Barton were to prove to be that good as an NFL starting offensive tackle.

Remember that Miller had a bum ankle last year which could have contributed to so many of his false starts. Maybe with some time away from the game Miller will come back more motivated than ever to get the ring and really produce.

Don't forget that if he was that bad why would about 4-5 teams be interested in signing him?

Now that Budweiser has been purchsed by a European company it now must be Miller time.

Go Miller and go Bears!!!

LOL!! To all you that are flipping out over them getting Miller and releasing Barton. LOL. Barton showed "promise" against 2nd teamers at best. No one has any proof that he can play. If Miller is better right now, then so be it. Barton or Miller will not make or break this team. I believe it is less fragile than most of you think.

1. Thomas Jones never (NEVER) had a game like Forte did. Forte looks like a special RB. He will make up for lack of blocking with great running instincts. It is clear that the lack of a decent back was the killer for the Bears last year.

2. Defense is healthy right now, and has a little more depth at every position right now. They can survive a few injuries that are not serious to some starters. Marcus Harrison looks to be somewhat unblockable at the DT position one on one. Now that makes 2 tackles that need to be double teamed, and leaving Brown and Ogunleye one on one. The safeties are 3 deep with Brown McGowan and Payne (Manning could also play).

3. Orton looked slightly better than average last week. This guy can get the job done. He is competent, and his arm is plenty strong enough. Grossman is a back-up with lots of wins and experience. The Bears have the best situation at QB since Kramer started all 16 in 1995. Although Orton has not won a game yet with a big drive in a 4th quarter while trailing. Grossman did once with a pass to Davis in 06 at Minn to win 19-16. But he is obviously better as a back-up.

4. This coaching staff has done fine since it has been here. They are even keeled and believe in their system. Everyone knows the system.

5. Other teams on their schedule are already having problems. TB has Garcia injured and out next week. Carolina is w/o Smith. Det is just bad. They seem to be way more fragile than the Bears could ever be right now.

Until further notice, I have to side with Angelo on this one. In 4 years with this regime, health has been the deciding factor. In 04 and 07 they were decimated by injuries and struggled. In 05 and 06, they did fine with minimal injuries.

I predict 20-10 Bears win this weekend. I will miss the game b/c I will be at a fundraiser, but my brother is taping it for me. Woohoo. Hope they win.

Go Bears!

While I am disappointed the Bears cut rookie tackle Kirk Barton, I still think there is hope for this offensive line. I went on the Bears web site and checked out the depth chart. On the depth chart, they have Josh Beekman at left guard, Garza at right guard, but what caught my eye was who was the second team right guard, Dan Buenning. This tells me one thing, the Bears must be happy with the play of Josh Beekman at left guard. Beekman has looked good at left guard for the Bears, other than the off-side penalty last sunday, [in Beekman defense they were in a no huddle offense] Beekman was pretty solid. To me, this is the equivalent to Beekmans rookie season anyways, I think he will improve on the no huddle thing. The injury to Chris Williams was a major blow, but it did open the door for Beekman. Now Beekman has ample time to develope until Williams return. If not for the injury, which don't get me wrong, was not a good thing, and Beekman might not have seen the field, St.Clair would have been at left guard. I like St.Clair, he would have made a nice left guard, but what kind of a future would you have with a ten plus season player, this is why I like Beekman better for the position. By seasons end, if Williams returns, the Bears will have a young left side with Williams & Beekman. Who should both develope into a solid left side for the Bears, and should be around for awhile. GO BEARS!!

If Barton was a special player, he would not have been been cut. They could have easily cut Metcalfe, knowing St. Clair and the guy they just picked up can play the guard positions.

In fact, if Barton was so great, they would not have made the trade.

JA and Lovie have never been shy about playing late-round picks very, very early if they show ability.

Barton? He might be good. Might.

But clearly, he didn't do enough to convince the staff he is worth stashing on the inactive list every week.

Keep in mind. If the Colts game was not a fluke, and if the Bears can win Sunday, they will be in the thick of the race within a very weak division. 9-7 could easily win this.

And once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.

Who would you rather have? An untested rookie, or a veteran who may very well have played injured last season, leading to his struggles?

I'll take Miller as a backup any day over a seventh-round pick.

Idc: "Barton? He might be good. Might."
Miller? He mightily sucks. Mightily.

And for Idc and others who harp that preseason means nothing ... you're very wrong. Preseason sucks for evaluating a team mainly because teams don't really give a sh!t. However, players care because they are being evaluated. Preseason is the best time for player evaluation of non-starters. Saying that Barton (or Hanie) only looked good because they were playing against 2nd or 3rd stringers is five shades of stupid.

First, HUNDREDS of MILLIONS of dollars each year are gauranteed to rookies who have looked good in COLLEGE games. College games where they are playing opponents far less skilled than a professional 2nd-string team.

Second, preseason is for evaluating talent. The drop-off from starter to 2nd-string is rarely severe unless you take into account star players. How many of you saw a DISTINCT drop-off in the play of our d-line when Marcus Harrison subbed in? Or the secondary when Manning subbed in?

Third, there are such players as "preseason warriors" - guys who can play in the preseason but lose it come regular season. That's probably more of a mental block than lack of ability especially at this level.

The general rule of thumb is, if you can play at an elevated level in preseason (regardless of opponent), you can play at the NFL level. It doesn't mean you can be an instant starter but you do belong in the league.

In 2006, Mark Anderson was a 2nd-string player (and still is), should all of those tackles he beat for sacks be demoted or driven out of the NFL because he's only 2nd-string? Or because he was a rookie? Or because he was a 5th-round pick?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 10, 2008 8:06 AM.

Play-time statistics & other tidbits from Indianapolis was the previous entry in this blog.

Harris not overlooking former draft mate Orton is the next entry in this blog.

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