Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, April 9: Cutler and a $100,000 workout bonus

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Welcome to Four Down Territory where we tackle issues surrounding the Bears as best we can. We'll do one more Q&A for this week on Friday. Get your questions in soon. We'll resume the Q&A on Monday and have a schedule for next week then.

Q: Will new quarterback Jay Cutler be able to earn the $100,000 workout bonus from the Bears that he reportedly had already missed with Denver?

Alex O., Toronto

A: We've received a few inquiries on this one and waited to have a firm answer to respond. Yes, Cutler is eligible to earn the $100,000 workout bonus that is a part of the contract the Bears inherited when they traded for Cutler. The contract applies to the Bears and because Cutler was acquired before the start of the club's voluntary offseason workout program, he's eligible to cash in. It doesn't matter what happened with the Broncos, where he had missed out on the mark after missing six days. The interesting thing to note is Cutler's contract calls for him to be present for 90 percent of the workouts to trigger the payment. Typically, the Bears ask their players to appear at 85 percent of workouts to collect bonuses in their contracts. Cutler will have to do better to be paid, but it's money he is eligible to earn.

Our mailbox filled up fast on Wednesday with more inquiries about Torry Holt and whether or not he could be coming to the Bears. We wrote last week and repeated it earlier this week that Holt's agent Kennard McGuire told the Sun-Times he didn't see the Bears working out. We'll share just a sampling of the inquiries and address this issue for the final time or until something changes on this front.

Q: I just heard on ESPN AM-1000 during an interview with Orlando Pace on Waddle & Silvy that Holt told him a few days ago to have Lovie Smith call him. Looks like maybe he is interested in Bears afterall.

Nick, Parts Unknown

Q: Orlando Pace said himself today that he is trying to recruit Big Game Torry Holt to the Bears. That says it all for me. Why hasn't Jerry Angelo made this happen yet? It seems apparent to me that it may just be a matter of time no matter how many times you write Holt isn't going to be a Bear.

Rick P., Parts Unknown

Q: I'm confused why Torry Holt refuses to consider signing with the Bears, according to his agent. I think he would be a great mentor for our young receivers. I think he would be a perfect fit for the Bears. I think that Plaxico Burress and Matt Jones would be nothing but trouble. Do you think he is waiting to see how the Anquan Boldin situation pans out? Also, Do you think Lovie Smith and Orlando Pace can play the St. Louis card and persuade him to sign with the Bears?

Tim M., Binghamton, N.Y.

A: For starters, let's go back to last Friday when we caught McGuire on the phone and asked him if the Bears could be in the mix for Holt following a visit he made to Tennessee, the second club Holt has met.

"I don't see that,'' McGuire told me.

McGuire is a veteran agent who is a straight shooter. A lot of agents representing free agents would have interested the question different and said "a lot of teams are interested in him.'' McGuire didn't say that Holt wasn't interested in the Bears. He didn't say the Bears were not interested in Holt. He said he didn't see it happening. Let's put Holt in perspective here for a minute. He has been a free agent now for a month. If there were teams out there that believed he was still close to being what he was in his prime, I'm pretty certain he would have been signed. Three weeks ago.

Lovie Smith didn't jump up and down when asked about Smith earlier this week at an appearance in Des Plaines.

"I do have a relationship with Torry Holt," Smith said. "He's a great player, great guy. He's available right now. Torry's in the (free agency) pool like a lot of other receivers. We evaluate everybody that's available, and Torry's one of them."

Keep in mind that Angelo said he was most likely to address wide receiver in the draft. Even after the addition of Jay Cutler, that would appear to be the plan. Holt, who has also visited Jacksonville, has knee issues. The Bears went the re-tread route last year and Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd didn't do much for them. That's not to say Holt cannot have a productive season this year or in the new few years, but Angelo talks about being a draft-driven team and I doubt the trade for Cutler is now going to lead him to say ``we're a free-agent driven team.'' Perhaps the Bears want to wait until after the draft--now just 16 days away--and then assess where they are at with their roster. At this point, Holt doesn't do himself any good by shutting out potential suitors. That is not a successful move by any player or agent. It's probably fair to say that if the Bears wanted to kick the tires on Holt, they probably would bring him in for a look. I think what McGuire did was offer an honest assessment of the situation. That is our final take on the Holt situation for now.

Q: I know that there aren't very many viable options in free agency right now. Will there be any ``big name'' cap casualties in the near future? What are the rumors you are hearing about who might be released?

Dave, Parts Unknown

A: I doubt you will see any real shockers moving forward here. There really are not many cap casualties any more. Few teams run into the kind of cap crunches that they did five or more years ago because the cap has risen such and teams have gotten smarter when it comes to constructing contracts and finding other ways to ensure they have ample operating space. Even the release of Orlando Pace and Torry Holt in St. Louis wasn't as much of a cap issue as it was the Rams wanted to go in a new, younger direction under a new head coach. Sure, the Rams created some cap space by making the moves but it wasn't their sole motivation. Typically, the cap casualties come in February and early March, too, when roster bonuses are due. Don't hold your breath waiting for any star players to reach the open market.

Q: I'm very concerned with the safety position. Last season it looked like Kevin Payne was laying big hits on his own teammates as much as the other teams' players. When he was put in coverage he looked average at best. To be honest though, I am more worried about free safety. Craig Steltz is not a free safety. Although I feel he has the head for it, I don't think he has the coverage skills. I think he and Payne will fight for strong safety. I was high on Josh Bullocks when he was drafted but he seems to have really struggled since. One guy I'm really intrigued by is Zack Bowman. This kid had a first-round grade coming out of Nebraska it just seems that injuries did him in during his college career. He has the ballhawking skills to play free safety but does he have the brains and physical presence? Is he at Halas Hall this offseason working? I think that if the Bears do not address this with their second-round pick (Rashad Johnson or Louis Delmas), Bowman could be a real darkhorse to take over the free safety position. What do you think?

Christopher B., Portage, Ind.

A: I thought Payne played pretty well last season when he was at strong safety to start the year. He was on pace to lead the team in tackles, although that is really what an unblocked eighth defender in the box should do. There is no question that is his best spot and when he and Mike Brown were flip-flopped near the midpoint of the season it was because of Brown, not Payne. I wouldn't complain about Payne's physical play although I have had a coach tell me he has to be careful or he is going to knock himself out on the field. Payne figures to be the starter this season, and I agree with your assessment of Steltz. Bullocks looked solid in minicamp but that doesn't tell you a whole lot. When safeties and quarterbacks look bad in 7-on-7 drills, you know you have a real problem. As far as Bowman, I'd have concern about his ability to remain healthy. I wouldn't say he came out of school with a first-round grade either. There is a reason he lasted to the fifth round. Bowman looked like a high pick at Nebraska before he suffered multiple injuries. He was knocked out last season after one game with an injury. Asking him to remain healthy at a demanding position like safety could be rolling the dice, and the Bears have been down that road at safety before. Bowman figures to be in the mix but I would anticipate this job comes down to Bullocks or a rookie.

Thanks for participating and thanks as always for reading. We'll check back with another Q&A on Friday.

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ahhhhhhhhhhhh.......YES!!! tahts MY QB!!!! lik i always say support teh TEAM! i now some of you feelas are thinkin wel gee crap-ton you only became happy wit the bears AFFfter they got cutler and lokk good. ans i say atht a LIE!!!! ive alwsy speak highly of teh bears! go bak ans look at my posts ans show me ONE time jus ONE TIM isay something negative, loosers.

i LUV da bears and alsways hav!! ans now they can be as good as i am wehn i play madden on rookie mode. i doesnt undesratnd why they dint trade for cutler befores. i mean in mdden i have tom brady and peyton maning with randy moss and laree fitzjared. oh and at rb i have LT ans adrian pterson ans it was easy to get tehm on my team. waht took teh bears so long??????????

but you guys nowme old crap-ton just tring to be posATIVE..

ps yestersay my mommy tok me to saw staley da bear ans he give me a baloon. i luv staley da bear ans my mom took a pictur of him huggeen me..

Do we have anyidea of what happened with the visit of Ken Lucas by the Bear's? Or are we stuck with the Bullock experiment for saftey for this year and development of a rookie?

Brad there is a rumor going around that the Chiefs are shopping Glenn Dorsey. The Chiefs are switching to a 3-4 defense and Dorsey does not fit. Dorsey did not have a good first year but was playing next to Tank Tyler and Tamba Hali on one of the worst defenses in the NFL. We all know the Bears are weak at NT and Harris is a question at the Under tackle position. If this is true about Dorsey who can play both positions and is versed in the Tampa 2, could Chicago make a move if the price is right? I know it's a long shot but I think he would do much better playing next to Alex Brown and Harris if he is healthy. I am not sure what kinda of package they could put together for him but he might be worth look.

Ok Bear fans I got some fun stuff for you today. Warren Sapp just did a live interview for bloggers and a couple of guys asked questions about the bears so I though I would throw them up for you all. Some of you may find them interseting. The first question is about Harris.

Chuck, Sioux Falls SD 02:44 PM ET
"I read some time back that you was going to work with Tommie Harris this off season, is that true and if so how is he doing?"

Warren Sapp, NFL Network
"He won't even return my calls! Picture that with a kodak! We don't even get down like that."

(Well there goes that off season plan) Brad you may want to get on this, I think I smell an article.

Next question is about Cutler.

Chad, Custer, SD 02:22 PM ET
"Do you think chicago gave up to much for cutler?"

Warren Sapp, NFL Network
"Nope. I think that Denver didn't do enough to keep him."

Thank you Warren Sapp. Here is another question about Cutler.

Matthew, Edmonton 03:13 PM ET
"Matt Cassell or Jay Cutler? Who ya got?"

Warren Sapp, NFL Network
"I got Cutler."

About Mike Singletary

New Mexcio 03:23 PM ET
"Is Patrick Willis the next Mike Singletary?"

Warren Sapp, NFL Network
"There's only one Mike. There's only one Samari Mike. Let's see if we can get him a little pineapple in his diet before we start putting him up with the best who have ever played this game."

This last one is just for you mock fans who are doing your drafts.

Greg S., L.A. 02:06 PM ET
"What's up Warren! It's always great to see you here w/ us plain folk. Warren any idea on who the Raiders will choose, who would you choose? Raji for defense?"

Warren Sapp, NFL Network
"My people in Raider land are talking about picking something crazy like a safety. So don't be surprised if they do something you don't like in Oakland."

OMG the Raiders may do something crazy in the draft, what a surprise, quick what Safety ran the fastes 40?

Creighton., Chicago 02:12 PM ET
"Warren good to see your keeping busy. Any thoughts on Brando the Cutler hater? He is that so called Bear fan we have talked about before."

Warren Sapp, NFL Network
"Whats up Creighton, how you been been bro? Any fool that runs around bashing Cutler, is just that a fool and if this is that same Brando we have talked about then he is the biggest fool ever. Please keep posting his comments on my website, we all get a good laugh at this so called Bear fan. Keep up the good work Creighton, talk to you later. Do me a favor and call 670 next I am on the air so we can read some of this fools posts on the air." Man I hate the Brando, Lovie hates that stalker freak more than Angelo hates that freak Bill Holland."

Man even Sapp hates you, not only do the Bears players hate you Brando/Packerbacker/Crap-Ton/Branden/Gay/Tripper. It would sure be nice if you and the other Packer fans left the Bears blogs to us real bear fans. No wonder you hate Cutler so much your boy Rogers is no longer the man in the North. My Bears are gonna whoop your Packers crazy boy.

OK let me get this straight. The guy kisses off a $100K bonus as a bargaining chip to get himself traded. It works. (ok there is a little more to the story, but he did get traded) Now because of a scheduling windfall he get's the bonus anyway?


That's like walking down the street and finding a $100,000 bill on the sidewalk. Most of us will never be that lucky in our whole life!!!!

If his life is that charmed, we definately want him quarterbacking the Bears.

"Angelo talks about being a draft-driven team and I doubt the trade for Cutler is now going to lead him to say 'we're a free-agent driven team.'"

It's not a question of being a draft- or free agent-driven team. The issue is whether you want to win right now or rebuild for the future. If the Bears want to win now, they'd better get Holt or someone else who can dramatically improve their sorry wide receiver corps.

"Let's put Holt in perspective here for a minute. He has been a free agent now for a month. If there were teams out there that believed he was still close to being what he was in his prime, I'm pretty certain he would have been signed."

Or, Holt has not yet received an offer that he likes. Either way, he still had a good season in 2008 considering that he had 64 receptions and almost 800 yards with reduced playing time. (St. Louis was trying to phase in some younger receivers.) Probably no team in the league is as bad off at receiver as the Bears, so of course Holt would help them more than he'd help other teams. Any way you look at it, this would be a huge, very positive acquisition for the Bears and the last piece of the puzzle in this year's free agency. If the Bears don't get Holt or another veteran wide receiver who greatly improves that position, Jay Cutler will be very limited in what he'll be able to do, and so will the offense in general.

None of this is meant to say that the Bears will be a top team this season if they just get Torry Holt. They still have to fix the interior of the offensive line re run blocking and, most important, fix the defense. But failing to sign a good veteran wide receiver will almost certainly doom their 2009 season to one of mediocrity at best. Even if they get a good receiver in the draft, he almost certainly won't contribute significantly until 2010 at the earliest. And just think: if the Bears get Holt, they could use their first pick for a lineman or free safety instead of obsessing on a wide receiver. We got Cutler, we got Pace, now let's get the missing piece on offense and fix the rest of the problems!

My understanding is that the Bears are still in good shape with cash after getting Cutler and Pace, it has got to make sense for them to pick up at least one proven NFL Wr, yes ideally Holt would be great coming onto a team with Lovie and Pace ex Rams. His expertise as a proven WR would do wonders for the entire set of WR's Hester, Bennett et al including two or more WR's picked in the draft or as free agent signee's after the draft.

Common Bears we need two more moves to occur to seal the deal get Lucas for the defense either at Corner but preferably at free safety and get Holt as a starter at WR. Yes still draft a WR in rounds 3-4 but by picking up these proven vets the 2009 season could be very special.

My hope is for

2nd round pick the best talent at WR, OG, free safety or outside linebacker. (Maybe it is time to move Urlacher to the ouside position and pick up MLB talent, I agree with previous bloggers about this move would add 2-3 years to Url and get him more involved in the pass rush).
3rd round pick just like above going for best available talent, not reaching and not getting the graded value needed for the pick.

After the 5th round we should have some talent at each of the positions noted above but at some point it would be nice to pick up a FB either in round 5 through 7. Maybe the second pick in the 5th round.

I like these guys in this order if available at #49 and later.

Duke Robinson OG
Robiskie or Nicks WR
Rashard Johnson FS
Zack Follett (linebacker)

Saw the Bills are shopping WR Roscoe Parrish, a friend of Hester's. Any thoughts on if he would be a fit on the Bears, or significantly improve their WR corps?

I think we should forget about Holt. This is the second time I've heard his knees aren't good. I heard an interview on Fox Sports Radio where someone said the same thing. If he was healthy someone would have snatched him up by now. He is not the same player he once was. I would take him at 80% of what he once was, I don't think anyone would want him at 60%. Depends on how bad of shape he's really in. I would love to see him come to the Bears and have great season or two, but I don't see it happening from what we've heard. I think we draft a WR in Rd 2, unless we think one of the FS available can be another Mike Brown, or Bob Sanders. I would love to have him turn into an Ed Reed or Brian Dawkins, but this is a 2nd round pick we're talking about. Then we draft the best WR available in Rd 3 and maybe even sign the best FA WR available. Not sure who that is though if it's not Holt.

2-49 Rashad Jonson FS
3-99 Mike Wallace WR
4-119 Fenuki Tupou OT/OG
5-149 Kyle Moore/Matt Shaugnessy DE
5-154 Marko Mitchell WR
6-190 Brandon Hughes CB
7-246 Antonio Dixon NT
7-251 Phil Trautwein OT

Actually, I've heard rumors that Tony Scheffler the big (6'-5")pass catching tight end in Denver, who was also one of Cutler's favorite targets, has expressed his feelings about his buddy Cutler being traded away Denver to the Bears! He's being considered another disgruntled Broncos player by the new coaches.
If, by some chance, Scheffler gets released by the Broncos because new head coach Josh McDummy doesn't think he fits his revamped offensive scheme or for some other (sic)stupid reason - the Bears should definitely consider picking him up - right away before another team grabs him! He's a good player - a real tough "Hulk" and he's a sure handed pass catching target which is why Cutler had so much confidence in going to him on third down situations over the past three seasons. Check out his stats! He's a good one alright and I've been watching him catch passes here in Denver for the pass 3 years. The Bears would do well signing Scheffler if he becomes available!

Wow, hthhhorses, a Bronco fan that hates McNugget and likes Cutler. Congradulations, you are smarter than 90 percent of your peers. Sorry you lost Cutler, thats gotta suck, but hey you got ????? Scheffler is a real nice player but we already have Olsen and while I think Scheffler is better than Olsen there still very close to being the same player.

I here you guys will probably not bring back Marshall as well next year. Thats gotta suck. You better hope Royal and Clady don't say they really liked Cutler too.


In reading the chat held with Warren Sapp, mentioned by Creighton. Sapp said that Tommie Harris will not return his calls, considering that he was not in shape for the mini camp and had to sit out the last day can we finally consider Tommie a "turd" using NFL venacular? Also what do you think his value would be on the open NFL market?

He frustrates me as a Bears fan, all the talent in the world but no desire to be great, he's all talk and very little action.

I looked everywhere for that chat with warren sapp and have yet to find it your full of Crap creighton


Wow, it took me all of 20 seconds to find the link:

Maybe later you can have your beard - er, I mean "wife" - tell us how Google is down and THATS why you couldn't find it ... And how big of a bear fan you are, and how monstrous your schlong is, and how your lips DON'T move when you read, and how you have the highest IQ of any of the other down syndrome kids, and ... Well, you get the picture.

When you go out with your wife does she wear a t-shirt that says "If I had nuts they'd be bigger than his"??

Wasnt Tommie Harris in Nigeria?
Not to make any excuses for the guy, but those international calls can get kinda pricey assuming there is cell phone coverage. Lets give the guy the benefit of the doubt, since he did go down to Africa to help some needy kids out. Hopefully, Tommie and the rest of the defense will start dominating games again next year.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 9, 2009 2:25 PM.

Pacemaker: Kurt Warner discusses Bears' new left tackle was the previous entry in this blog.

Regular season schedule to be unveiled by NFL on Tuesday is the next entry in this blog.

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