Chicago Sun-Times

Tait's retirement would give Bears decison to make on bonus money

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Not only will John Tait's expected retirement force the Bears to contemplate offseason moves on the offensive line, it will lead the organization to make a decision on money that has already been paid to the veteran right tackle.

Tait, who one source told the paper is definitely walking away from the game, has one year remaining on his contract at $4.8 million and his departure would create a salary-cap savings of $4.85 million, including a $50,000 workout bonus he has for this year.

When he departs it will create a void at offensive tackle for the club as Chris Williams, the 2008 first-round pick, will be the only player at the position under contract. When his retirement papers are officially filed--nothing is finalized right now--it will also create an opportunity for the organization to recoup a pro-rated portion of bonus money that has already been paid to Tait. There's no saying that would be a move general manager Jerry Angelo would elect to make but it would be an option.

Tait has been a good player for the Bears on and off the field. He started 73-of-80 regular-season games since being signed away from the Kansas City Chiefs as a restricted free agent in 2004. He was also very involved in charities sponsored by the organization.

The amount of money the Bears could seek is believed to be nominal--$500,000, the remaining portion of the $3 million signing bonus he received. The Bears had to front load the contract to prevent the Chiefs from matching it. Kansas City was in a tight bind with its salary cap so the Bears included the signing bonus but also a $7.5 million roster bonus. With a base salary of $535,000 and a $50,000 workout bonus, Tait's cap figure for that season was $11,085,000.

It's not believed the Bears could pursue Tait for any portion of the $7.5 million roster bonus, not in light of the ruling by a federal judge last year in the Atlanta Falcons' attempt to get money back from ex-quarterback Michael Vick. U.S. District Judge David Doty ruled the collective bargaining agreement did not allow roster bonus money to be forfeited once it's been earned. Jake Plummer eventually agreed to pay back half of a $7 million bonus to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after they acquired him from the Denver Broncos in a trade and he never reported.

Of course, the Bears may let Tait walk with the $500,000. He did all they asked and could simply be making the decision that it's best for his future. Stay tuned.

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20 Comments

I would be really disappointed in the Bears if they went after some chicken@#$%@ bonus refund on a player like that. Don't pull some nonsense that get's around and winds up costing a good FA signing for another player down the road.

The Bears better let Tait keep the money, he deserves it. But the team issue is what, if anything, they'll do with the extra cap space. They need offensive linemen very badly. The line is not only old, it's also weak. They have no power running game because the interior linemen are small by today's NFL standards, Chris Williams is a totally unknown commodity at left tackle, and John St. Clair is at best average on the right side and is also old. (St. Clair should be put at left guard where he's much better than at tackle, much better than Josh Beekman, and would add some size to the interior of the line, but these idiots probably won't do that.) So the Bears had better use this money and their other cap space to dive into free agency and get some good linemen. If they don't, the 16-16 records of the last two seasons will seem like heaven.

Really sorry to see Tait move on he was a quality pro tackle and certainly had another year in him. The BEARS are in deep trouble at tackle now, St Claire better be option number 1 and I hope a hell of an effort is made to go after Jordan Gross.

Wouldn't you think that Tait would have returned if he thought there was a chance the BEARS would be legit Super Bowl contenders this upcoming season? Or maybe he is just tired of watching Lovie do nothing with this team, make no halftime adjustments, run practice like Pee Wee football etc. Maybe its time to have guys like JA and Lovie hit the road, a change would be good for the Bears at the top, maybe the McCaskey's should sell to an owner that gets it done and spends the money that is needed to be spent?

Now for sure a tackle will be a priority in round 1 or 2 which would not have been the case if Tait stayed another year and St.Claire was signed. Knowing how cheap the McCaskey's are they probably will want the $500,000 back with interest. I agree with MS Bear Fan it is Chicken $h%t if they go after that money.

and John Tait retiring turned into everyone in the bears organization sucks and should be fired how?

hes been playing through injuries and sometimes you wanna quit while you can still walk...its as simple as that...

i just dont think its some secret way to make a statement against how the team is run...thats just plain silly...

and again with the bears are cheap stuff...

question if they spend the money wisely but its undeniable that the money is spent...

Can you go over the cap space that the Bears will have after Tait reitres, the Booker release and the Marcus Hamilton 9-10 million credit? It is getting a little confusing. Seems like there are different numbers being reported. Is it true that the Bears will have 37-38 million available, like it is being reported by some people?

JustInCredible, please change your sign in to Justincrediblynaive!

Common are you watching the last two years of Chicago Bear football?

The Bears were in the SuperBowl two years ago, the team has sucked for two years, do you think the effort or coaching was even remotely been adequate the last two years? hell no!!

The McCaskey's are not spending the money they could to make this a truly championship caliber team, they are putting millions in their pockets on an annual basis in profit.

The Chicago Bear Qb situation has been the laughing stock of NFL for the history of the NFL how is that for being inept?

The BEars coaching staff, Lovie, Babich, the GM JA and the owners have taken the most prolific franchise and team in NFL history to historic new lows.

We know who they are we know who they were and they are not champions!!!!

Enough said and I am sick of it after following the Bears since 1963 when I was 8 years old.

Hey Brad,
I don't like this one bit. Mike Brown would have come at a discount, a good veteran. Manning does not have the IQ to be a reliable free safety. But given the situation...... could you give us a couple of the better safeties that would be available through free agency?

Jordan Gross. Sign him.

Orton is going to be running for his life next season. The running game will have the same problem. This will give Lovie another reason of why the bears stunk. I hope phillips sees thru that and fires the two bozos (angelo and lovie) at the end of next season. Only then, will there be any chance for this team.

Actually you are both correct, as he does want to walk away, with walk being the key word. John Tait was a great player for the Bears and a great FA signing, but he wasn't at his prime last year and Da have really screwed this team up the last few years - we went into the Super Bowl and then they all forgot what got them there, bad drafts, bad Coaching changes, bad Coaching, bad players effort...it's been a real nightmare for the Bears and the Bears organization is to blame. This Free Agency is going to tell on the Bears org. once and for all, if they spend the money on Free Agents (like the Pats) and other succesful franchises do then we will be fine, if they don't we all need to boycott games to get the message to the McCaskey's that we are not giving them our hard earned money anymore.
As Kevin (I believe) has been all over Gross, we now have the money and the position open. (maybe a plan?)
Oh yeah, and even though I feel Tait should have retired last year, he earned that money! Much unlike the Bears owners/Mgrs/Coaches

Brad,

What would be the odds of the Bears offering up Urlacher for one of Rosenheus' clients (Chad Johnson, Boldin, or Buress)?

In years past, the Bears had to pay their own in the off-season, with players like Briggs, Urlacher, Harris, Tillman, and Vasher. The "pay your own" policy, I agree with, if your gonna draft & develop a player, and the player pans out, pay him. This off-season is a different story, other than tackle John St.Clair, theres no one else on the roster this off-season the Bears really have to pay. Chicago must sign a free agent tackle, hopefully Jordan Gross, the Bears will have the money to pay Gross, and he will be worth every dime. If not, Chicago must bring St.Clair back, and use a first round pick on a tackle, I'd like to see the Bears land Arizona's Eben Britton, either way, its gonna be a very interesting next couple of weeks GO BEARS!!

If Tait retires, forget about signing St Clair. Save the cap space and sign Jordan Gross if the Panthers don't tag him. I know the chances are slim that Gross will be available since Peppers is too pricey to tag and Gamble is not necessarily worth tagging. The tag deadline is Feb 19 and free-agency starts on Feb 27, so the Bears will know ahead i=of time if they should pursue St Clair or not. In addition, we can draft a tackle in one of the first two rounds which will take care of the OT position for a while.

So where are we at Salary cap wise if Tait retires and we get the Hamilton credit?

In years past, the Bears had to pay their own in the off-season, with players like Briggs, Urlacher, Harris, Tillman, and Vasher. The "pay your own" policy, I agree with, if your gonna draft & develop a player, and the player pans out, pay him. This off-season is a different story, other than tackle John St.Clair, theres no one else on the roster this off-season the Bears really have to pay. Chicago must sign a free agent tackle, hopefully Jordan Gross, the Bears will have the money to pay Gross, and he will be worth every dime. Bringing back St.Clair is another option, and could work out for Chicago.

Chicago could resign John St.Clair, and draft a tackle in the first to be the eventual starter on the right side. St.Clair isn't an all-pro, but he did prove this season he could give the Bears 16 starts, and at the ever important left tackle position. This season would be different, St.Clair would have to play right tackle, a position he is probably better suited for. Theres no reason to believe St.Clair would do any worse than Tait would have at right tackle this upcoming season, I actually think St.Clair would do a better job at right tackle than Tait would have. This would allow the rookie, hopefully Eben Britton of Arizona, to either sit a year, or start if he is ready, either way the Bears are probably gonna be better off then they were a year ago at tackle GO BEARS!!

If Tait does hang it up. They better be players for a veteran with the additional cap space. I wonder what it would take as insurance to possibly grab Jordan Gross. My understanding he is on the right side of 30 and is one of the better options available. I know he has been starting with Carolina on the left-side but he can play right. Since JA has left the position exposed and the draft is a serious gamble. It may be worth a look. Also, no one knows for sure how Williams will look considering he has yet to start a game.

how long you have been a bears fan doesnt have anything to do with your knowledge of football and football operations...

every season the bears spend money....they spend butt tons of money...how much did they spend on extending their own players last season? some 180 million...i dont know on what planet thats cheap...but not on this one...

you can def make the argument if that money was well spent...but thats totally different then the same ol the Bears are cheap crap that keeps getting tossed around with no base...

its old...

JustIncredible, I think age, and knowledge aquired with age are to be respected. Like look what you said, you claim the Bears spent 180 mil last year. I don't think so. At max those extensions and new contracts could cost the bears 180 million over the next 6 years. But they did not actually dish out 180 million in one year. You also should remember those contacts are incentive laden. Also some teams spent 400 million last year in new contracts.

Now it is true, that the Bears pay a lot of money to there players, and you cannot call them cheap, you can say they are conservative though. You could also say they spend there money badly. Which they do. You also must remember that historically the Bears have been cheap, from Dhali's point of view the same owners nickle and dimed this team for decades, which they did do. They have spent there share of money though, sense the new stadium was built. A stadium I may add was payed for by Chicago tax payer dollars, a stadium that the McCaskey family basically threatened to up and move the Bears unless they got it cause they love the fans and city so much they were to cheap to build there own.

So while the Bears have started spending there money, albiet poorly and they did create and sign some new bad contracts last year that could cost them up to 180 mil. I can say with 100 % accuracy that we Chicago Tax payers and Bear fans have spent a lot more on the McCaskey family than they have on us. Unless the McCaskey family has made all of you very rich and I am the only one not getting any damn money.

Is that what has been going on, thats such BS. Someone tell Virginia I want my 2 bits!

Look, the fact is the Bears make a lot more off the fans then they spend on the team, and that is the end of that story. You can also point out that team has no core players drafted under the Angelo ragime. There is also the fact that they make poor personel choices. If they were to fix anything I would say fix the front office and scouting cause both are failing at what they do. Maybe they don't spend enough on scouting. WHO KNOWS.

The Core players for the Bears the last decade have been Hatley guys and free agents.

Take these guys off the team and replace them with Angelo guys.

On DLine Alex Brown was a Jauron guy and Angelo has been trying to replace him for years and has yet to do it.
Brian Urlacher and Mike Brown have been the hart of the defense for years. Angelo has been trying to find safties sense he got here.
Olin Kruetz the heart of the Oline.

Angelo has gotten Harris who is good when healthy and Briggs. He had Hester till they ruined him last year.

Has he fixed any of the positions he has said he would through the draft.
Oline he said he would fix that but his draft picks have been brutal and all he has done is bring in free agent stop gaps. Tait was a nice RFA.

He said his first priority when he got here was to fix the QB position. He has yet to do that

He is also still looking for WR, and Saftie help.

Oh and DE. He brought in Goon but he only plays well when he is surrounded by talent and is not a guy a team will game plan against.

He has not done a damn thing he set out to do sense the 2003 draft.
All he tends to do is draft and bring in stop gaps. But he has no real core players. He would have one in Harris if Harris could stay healthy but that was a known risk when he was drafted.

Your not going to see guys like Gross or Peppers on this team. It doesn't matter if they have the money. He will go find some stop gaps and try to draft some stars which he has spent his career failing to do.

that goes without saying (that they didnt get the money all at once)

and i do respect people for their age and wisdom...BUT obviously that gentleman was stuck in the past...the bears lets say in the past decade have spent tons of money on bad picks, bad free agents, numerous contract extensions (mostly for the defense which was the 2nd highest paid defense last season, the offensive line etc etc...

the idea that the bears are cheap is an antiquated one...it just doesnt apply anymore

the money is more times often than not spent badly...but its spent...

and seriously why wouldnt the bears go after someone like gross...they have spent money like that b4...on you know...basically the whole offensive line...how much money was given to reuben brown, john tait, fred miller, and roberto garza? theres a history of action by JA in which he builds his lines mainly through free agency with established player

and i like how you veered from speaking to me directly to going into an Angelo sucks rant...he's not the best...hes not the worst

Justincrediblynaive is a good name for you, you should change your name as you are just not incredible; at least not with your knowledge of football and how money is truly spent.

Believe it or not 1985 was 24 years ago almost a quarter of a century has passed since the last championship as Super Bowl Champion. I would bet that you Justincrediblynaive are satisfied with the Bears and their accomplishments on the field, in the draft and in free agency since then? I for one believe that much more money could have been used over these years to bring in better talent and better coaching and give the great city of Chicago and its fan base what it truly deserves another Super Bowl Champion (not runner up)!!

Creighton, well said.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on February 14, 2009 1:20 PM.

Sources: Offensive tackle Tait close to retirement was the previous entry in this blog.

Booker's exit creates opening for Bennett is the next entry in this blog.

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