Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, Feb. 11: So what if T.O. becomes available?

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Plenty of football action already today, so we'll dive right into Four Down Territory.

Q: So I hear the Dallas Cowboys want Terrell Owens out of town. Either they cut him or trade him. I've heard speculation they could take as little as a third-round draft pick for him. Give me the odds of the Bears being players for his services.

James T., Charleston, Ill.

A: First, the Cowboys and Jerry Jones have to arrive at the conclusion that they're better off without T.O. than they are putting up with his antics and self-destructive behavior. Based on how Roy Williams played after Dallas paid a high ransom to get him from Detroit, that might be a tough decision to make. But Owens has become an unbelievably divisive force there, proof that problems ran much deeper than his run-ins with former wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator Todd Haley. That was the vibe you used to get, that T.O. didn't get along with Haley, which was dead on. Haley exited for Arizona in 2007 and T.O. has been at odds with everyone else since. What Jones is witnessing is the window of opportunity slowly closing on his team. He's moving into a shiny new $1 billion building and nothing sells quite like winning.

Popular opinion is growing that Owens will not be back in Dallas. Peter King weighed in on the issue Monday, writing "I think everyone doing free-agent lists should add one name in pencil: Terrell Owens. I'll bet you a month's worth of lattes he'll be free in six weeks." He's not the only national writer thinking that way. In fact, there are more who consider T.O. a goner than think he'll play with a star on the side of his helmet in 2009.

So, if the Cowboys are to begin gauging interest for T.O. around the league, certainly the Bears will be very much involved. T.O. would be the type of gamebreaking receiver general manager Jerry Angelo would add in a heartbeat.

OK. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention. T.O. to the Bears via a trade for a mid-round draft pick or as a free agent?

I'll give you the odds: Zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada (we had a question from Nada the other day). Ain't gonna happen. Fill-in-your-own-synonym here. The McCaskeys will sell the franchise before T.O. wears a Bears uniform. Yes, the circus will come to town, but it typically doesn't arrive until November when the Bulls head on their annual West Coast trip to make room for the animals and performers in the United Center.

Q: I see you wrote Tuesday that the Bears might not bring in a quarterback with experience in order to create a competitive atmosphere for Kyle Orton. Why not?

Harris M., Apache Junction, Ariz.

A: Ever since Angelo made his comments about the position days after the season ended, the Bears have rallied around Orton as a franchise. The job is his for the 2009 season no matter who they might sign. Right or wrong, that's where it is at. Looks like Chris Simms could be headed back to Tennessee. That's not surprising. When asked about the future for his son, Phil Simms said an offense like the Titans best suited Chris. This was at the Super Bowl when Phil Simms also said he didn't see anyone unseating Orton.

Byron Leftwich is looking for an opportunity to go somewhere and start. He grew up in Washington, D.C., and could land there with the Redskins. It's been speculated that as many as a dozen teams will be interested in him. After Simms and Leftwich, who is there to compete with Orton? At that point, you might as well see what you have in Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez. This doesn't rule out a quarterback in the draft.

Q: Given that the 2010 and 2011 seasons might be uncapped years for the NFL, how does this influence Bears' management concerning players whose contracts will expire after the 2009 and 2010 seasons?

Jan W., Germany

A: That's a great question. While no salary cap will be a boon for some players and teams there are some issues that will not help all players. Specifically, instead of getting to free agency after four years of service, players will have to put in six years before gaining free agency. That's a significant change as players look for that second contract to strike it rich in the NFL. In an uncapped system, that wait becomes longer as the club will hold exclusive rights.

Here are some Bears scheduled to come out of contract after the next two seasons who could be impacted by this if the league and NFLPA cannot come to a solution in the next year or so.

Players coming out of contract after 2009

Mark Anderson--This will be his fourth season.
Dusty Dvoracek--This will be his fourth season.
Danieal Manning--This will be his fourth season.
Kyle Orton--This will be his fifth year so in an uncapped system he would not be a free agent.
Jamar Williams--This will be his fourth season.

Players coming out of contract after 2010

Josh Beekman
Corey Graham
Caleb Hanie
Trumaine McBride
Kevin Payne
Garrett Wolfe

Q: I have a question for you that has really bothered me for a while now. With all that talk about a need to get a free safety via draft or free agency, what's with Craig Steltz? He will be going into his second year now and showed a lot of promise last season. Nice tackler, he had a great interception vs. Tennessee and it looked like he can handle the NFL. Or is he just considered a special teamer? By the way, I really think you should bring a little more coverage on guys playing special teams only or recent rookies. I mean the previous mentioned Steltz or Joey LaRocque? Can they get in the mix or are the Bears drafting only special teams players and linemen third stringers?

Mike, Warsaw, Ill.

A: Steltz did some nice things in the playing time he received in the second half of the season but I think he reinforced the opinions of some that he is best suited for strong safety. The Bears announced on draft weekend that they had gotten a "starting quality" player in Steltz in the fourth round. He projected as an in-the-box safety and that's probably where his future is if he can contend for a starting job. The Bears like to say their safety positions are interchangeable but they need someone with range to be able to play the deep post or deep hash. As far as LaRocque, what do you think he is going to be in the mix for come training camp? He did OK on special teams last season but I don't see him pushing aside any starters at this point. Inside the Bears likes to believe it gives full props to special teams.

Thanks for all of the participation and for reading. Shoot in your questions and we'll get to another Four Down Territory on Thursday.

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Brad, given the system the Bears run I think safety may be the most pressing need the Bears have to address outside of wide receiver. I'd personally like to see the Bears go out and find a veteran presence for the position. Who is available via free agency at safety? Also, any hope of bringing Mike Brown back at a bargain value? How do you see the Bears attacking this issue in the off season?

So let me got this straight: Jerry Angelo says he's not sold on Orton as the long term answer. This results in the consensus view that Orton is the long term answer, at least this year. This is the very definition of a team with a severe blind spot in player/scheme philosophy. Either the position is critical and you do everything you can to shore it up or you don't. You don't put off fixing the levees until after, say, hurricane season in N.O.

If it's a problem, you do everything you can NOW to fix it. To me, that suggests looking hard at Cassell in free agency and Sanchez in the draft. If it doesn't work out, so be it.

But stop paying lip service to the criticallity of the position and then tell us Hanie and some kid from NU are the best "competition" for Orton. That's a bigger joke than the Rex/Orton "competitions."

Come on people, football has changed from the days when a dominant D and a "manager" QB were enough. Ask the Steelers, with a D BETTER than the Bears D in both 05 and 06, if they think they could have beaten the Cards without the sublime playmaking of Roethlisberger.

Of the list provided above I think Danieal Manning, Kyle Orton, Hanie, Corey Graham, Kevin Payne, and maybe Mark Anderson, depending on their performances should remain with us. The rest of them can be released as far as I'm concerned.

1. Terrell Owens is a cancer on any team and does far more harm to the team with his antics, personality, and attitude than any good he does on the field. I wouldn't want him for free, and the stodgy Bears would never get a player like this. This is one instance where being conservative is a good thing.

2. " Ever since Angelo made his comments about the position days after the season ended, the Bears have rallied around Orton as a franchise. The job is his for the 2009 season no matter who they might sign. Right or wrong, that's where it is at."

That's one of the major things wrong with the Bears. No one should be anointed as a starter at ANY position. If, say, Caleb Hanie, shows that he's a better quarterback than Kyle Orton in the mini camps, training camp, and preseaon, he should be given the starting job. Same goes for anyone the Bears might get through free agency. Anointing Rex Grossman as the starter caused the Bears to lose Brian Griese who, while not great, was much better than Grossman or Orton. If the Bears ever want to be a serious contender again, they've got to stop this baloney that gives starting jobs to players and start making everyone earn their starting positions.

People, we got 3 SS (Payne, Brown, Steltz) on the roster and only 1 FS (McGowan - and he is always hurt). There is no way the Bears will keep Brown, cause they're stuffed with SS. We need a FS with range or maybe even two. Forget McGowan and Brown - a safety getting injured after every second hit is worthless in the NFL.
Who let Todd Johnson go? I really liked him.

Hey Brad,

I've heard that the QB crop coming out next year far exceeds that of this year. Could it be that Angelo has decided to wait until next year to draft that franchise QB we so desperately need?

Seems to me this would give Orton one more chance to prove himself. Plus, why waste a draft pick this year on a QB that isn't NFL ready when you can see a bumper crop of QBs available next year.

Of course, I thought that Atlanta's QB Matt Ryan wasn't that great of a draft pick, and look how that turned out.....

If Chicago does sign another QB, I still say its gonna be Patrick Ramsey.

I don't think the Bears really have to sign another QB. As far as competition for Orton to keep him sharp, I don't think theres any need, especially with Orton playing for a contract, that should keep him sharp enough. And I don't think the fanbase were the only people on the planet that noticed Caleb Hanies play last pre-season, you can bet Orton did also. If Hanie looked good last pre-season with absolutely no experience in Turners offense, imagine how he will look this time around with a year under his belt. If healthy, Orton can get the job done, I still think he's gonna be a pretty good QB for Chicago. Let Hanie and Basanez duel it out for the #2 job, and Chicago should be fine. If Caleb Hanie comes out gunning it, and moving the ball with the #2's, this should be enough to keep Orton looking over his shoulder. I look for Kyle Orton to heve a breakout season none the less, especially with this being his first full off-season as the starting QB. Orton will be better prepared than he has in his other two years as a starter, I think he's gonna surprise some people GO BEARS!!

hey brad, i wanted to focus in on a comment you made here: "The Bears like to say their safety positions are interchangeable but they need someone with range to be able to play the deep post or deep hash."

this was obviously proven to be false and another 'lovie-ism' last year when the bears swapped brown & payne last season, when it was shown that mike brown clearly couldn't cover anyone down field anymore. payne was obviously out of sorts/position after the switch, proving that the coaching staff was willing to play payne in the wrong spot, in order to play mike brown in the right spot. that's not very interchangeable to me.

the bears need for a free safety is glaring, and there are little to no answers in the draft. if atogwe doesn't hit FA, it will be the same cast of characters next year.

other than special teams, what exactly did craig steltz do last year? i must have missed something. as i recall ryan grant running over him numerous times in the home green bay game, and pierre thomas turning him around at least 3/4 times in the new orleans game, one of which he took to the end zone. steltz looked completely lost last year at safety with the exception of one interception against detroit (who was obviously looking soley at calvin johnson on the play in the red zone).

I know it won't happen...

But beggars can't be choosers. I think it would be INSANE to immediately disregard T.O. just b/c the man is loudmouth wrecking ball. When T.O. signs with a team, usually the first year is quiet. The bears can take advantage of that. Sign him for 2 yrs., then you know when the wrecking ball starts a rollin you can cut him. Now this is assuming that the Cowfrauds actually release him. I wouldn't trade FOR him.

I just don't think the Bears are in any position to take a some sort of "stance" right now. Lovie is clearly on the hotseat and needs to WIN right now to keep his job and should be at the very least looking at ALL options....


Windy City- I also liked Todd Johnson the kid could play, the team let him go when they picked up a loser we all know as Archuleta.

Metropolis Joe- Yesterday I wrote about the many great QB's coming out next year. Starting with the quality young man Tebow, McCoy and Heisman winner Bradford. Plus there are several more talents coming as well. The only reason Sanchez came out this year was to get paid. Smart move because this year he could be 1 or 2, next year he is 4 at best.

I hope the organization waits and lets Orton play. Orton succeeds fantastic, he doesn't we draft a stud next year. Win Win in my eyes.

I just heard today Ocho Cinco is willing to be involved in a trade. The kid still has many great years ahead of him and would look great in a Bears uniform.


With Orton annointed at starting quarterback, the Bears' offense will be even duller than it was last year. Three downs and punt most of the time,very rare first-down passes for six yards then two running plays before another punt, a big over-thrown pass downfield for a thirty-yard miss followed by two running plays for six yards and another punt.To add to the thrills, maybe Orton will get sacked or stumble and fall as he slowly tries to avoid pressure. Get T.O. so that at least the action on the sidelines will be entertaining. Do I sound disgruntled? I wonder why.

Brad -
Maybe you covered this topic already, but I'm looking for some context in the decision to move up the veteran minicamp to next month... i.e. does the NFLPA have any say in the matter of timing/scheduling/limiting off season player activities? Will there be any supplemental team activities during the usual minicamp time this summer? What real advantage do the Bears see from moving it up - and if it is such a good idea, why is it not then the standard practice around the league to hold minicamps earlier in the offseason?
Thanks. Mike

Stop with the lets get TO garbage. He has destroyed every team he has been on and the picture on this blog says it all. What a douche bag. The 49ers, Baltimore he would not accept the trade, Philly and lastly the lame Cowboys. Please fans stop the madness.

T.O. needs to stay on his driveway doing situps and maybe pop a few more pills. He does not need to be in the navy and orange.

OCHO and Boldin want trades. BEARS do everything in your power to get one. OCHO would be sweet.


Why doesn't Little Jerry sit down with Big Jerry and talk about T.O. over a few adult beverages? I think Big Jer might be susceptible to a little ego stroking don't you?

All Lil Jer needs to do is convince Big Jer that T.O. is really vital to the America's Team Super Bowl run and that his real problem is Roy Williams. Let him, Lil Jer, take this trouble-maker Williams off their hands for a first round pick.

How many beverages do you think that would take?

msbearsfan, a first round pick for roy williams? dear god. why?

if the bears offer a first round pick for any potentially available wr, it should be for one and only guy and that's anquan boldin.

Brad. The Bears seem to be 3-5 impact players away this offseason, just like last offseason. I'm not even counting the QB situation. Unlike last offseason, the Bears seem to have more opportunity to make up substantial ground. Last offseason they concentrated on rewarding their own, and the free agent crop was thinner. Now the Bears seem to have approx. $20 million in cap space, and a better crop of free agents to consider.

What is the concensus among you and your colleagues RE what you would expect the Bears to actually do? Sign 1 prime free agent? 2 mid-level free agents? Explore a trade? Rely soley on the draft? It appears that with key additions they could seriously contend, but obviously there is the issue of money. The cost of failing to fill the holes we're left with at each season's end keeps going up. If we could fill these holes, locking up players for 4-5 years, does it stand to reason the Bears would end up saving money? I'd like to believe they'd be thinking the same way.

RT is the Bears biggest need, followed closely by FS, then WR. Steltz is a SS, so is Payne, and Brown. Brown should definitely be cut cause there's no room for an old SS who can't cover anymore.

I would rather get a sharp stick in the eye than sign TO. TO has been a cancer and loser at every stop he has had from SF, to PHI to Dallas, you name it he is a loser and makes the team worse rather than better.

He throws his QB and everyone else under the bus all of the time. TO stinks more than the US Congress!!

Wicker dan,

Well to answer your question Roy Williams is about 6-3, 210#, runs good routes, has very good hands, and has plenty of speed to get vertical. He is in the prime of his career and is signed to a long term contract where the 'boys have already taken the big cap hit. After spending most of his career with the Lions, he probably would do almost anything to help a contender get to the playoffs.

Other than that he doesn't have that much going for him.

I made that post knowing Jerry Jones has never been drunk enough to take that deal. In other words I wasn't looking for an argument I was just making a joke.

I agree with you that Boldin would look great as a Bear. That said, I personally think Boldin is one of the better #2 receivers in the league. Williams is a #1 type guy who will probably catch a lot of passes from Tony Romo after they jettison T.O.

Roy Williams is a good receiver, but he won't be available. Like I said, it was really just a joke.

Fanatism always seek instant gratification. I wouldn't sign any quarterback not named Brady or Manning (if any of the best would be available). Big Ben is as hot and cold as Rex or Kyle have been, if not for the defense they wouldn't even had gotten to the playoffs. Favre? Romo? The first is old. The second's got a pretty good offensive line, TO, Williams, Witten etc......and he's still streaky. A 1st round qb? Really? Neither Sanchez or Stafford are gonna be able to contribute right away, not mentioning Sanchez health and inexperience or Stafford's inability to read coverages or make NFL progressions. The matter of fact is Rex is probably the best available qb in fa (Warner's gonna retire or stay in AZ) but still needs to go. Qb's, as in any position, are found everywhere, i.e. Warner, Romo, Brees (2nd rounder), every receiver on the Packers roster (the envy), Marques Colston, etc..... Stay the course, Kyle looked good when on a rythm almost impossible to have with this group of WR. He's made leaps since 05. Trade the 1st round pick for Boldin, sign Haynesworth not Peppers, and all of the sudden the team looks decent. Draft safety and OL for insurance and developement. Rome was not built in a day..... only Tom Brady can do that and how many are they.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 11, 2009 5:44 PM.

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