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We were flipping through a few baseball games earlier this evening when the United Football League sent out a press release, oh, about the time Jayson Werth was circling the bases in Philadelphia following his three-run home run. The upstart league announced that quarterback JP Losman has been signed to play for the Las Vegas franchise.

"The United Football League is providing me with the opportunity to play the sport I love at a high level and for that, I am extremely grateful," Losman said. "There are many players just like me who possess the skills to compete at the highest levels and just need the playing time to showcase their talents. The United Football League is filling that void and giving more players the opportunity to play. I am excited to get back out onto the field and represent Las Vegas during the league's first season."

That removes one experienced quarterback from the list of players the Bears could consider if they go shopping. That probably will not happen unless Caleb Hanie and Brett Basanez bomb out in training camp and preseason. Hanie is in position to become the No. 2 behind Jay Cutler and the Bears--coach Lovie Smith included--really haven't wavered off that. Smith said back at the scouting combine that he was comfortable with the players the Bears had at the time. We've written it before here, Hanie's physical tools probably make him a better athletic match to a guy like Cutler than Kyle Orton. We're not saying Hanie is going to become Cutler, but like Cutler he has some ability to scramble and keep plays alive in the pocket. Hanie also throws a pretty good deep ball.

Brian Griese, the ex-Bear, remains the most attractive option on the open market. His agent Ralph Cindrich told us last week that Griese hopes to remain in the game but he wants to play. Presumably, that means he wants to be in position to play and being behind Cutler might be like being behind John Elway. Griese did that for a year in Denver. It got him a Super Bowl ring.

The Bears passed up the rest of the league last Friday when they reached terms with seven of their nine draft picks. Contract negotiator Cliff Stein let it be known that his goal was to have all of the players under contract by mid-June and the Bears have about 10 days to make that happen.

Stein was the subject of a recent piece on ESPN.com by Len Pasquarelli right here. It outlined part of the philosophy in what the Bears do in keeping their rookie contracts uniform. Starting in 2003 with safety Todd Johnson, the Bears began signing all draft picks from the third round on down to four-year deals. At the time, they were permitted to sign second-round picks to five-year deals. Now, it's four-year deals for second-round picks on down. It's a good read and covers some of the ground we've hit on here.

After agent Frank Bauer's visit to Halas Hall earlier this week, defensive lineman Jarron Gilbert, the club's first third-round pick, is believed to be close to a deal. Bauer represents Gilbert as well as the power brokers on the coaching staff--Lovie Smith, Ron Turner, Bob Babich and Rod Marinelli. The Bears also have to sign wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias, the second pick from the third round.

All nine draft picks will receive four-year contracts with the following base salaries:

2009 $310,000
2010 $395,000
2011 $480,000
2012 $565,000

That makes for a base value of $1.75 million.

The Bears and contract negotiator Cliff Stein are one player and one day ahead of themselves from last year.

The Bears announced the signing of five draft picks on May 30 a year ago and did one better in announcing the signing of six draft picks this morning--D.J. Moore, Johnny Knox, Marcus Freeman, Al Afalava, Lance Louis and Derek Kinder. That leaves the top three picks to go--defensive linemen Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton and wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias.

The six players all received four-year contracts. The base value of the annual salaries for each player is $1.75 million.

2009 $310,000
2010 $395,000
2011 $480,000
2012 $565,000

gilbert526.jpg

The Bears were not first out of the gates to sign a draft pick this year but that doesn't mean they do not have a chance to be the first one to the finish line.

A handful of teams have already signed picks from the 2009 draft to contracts after the Bears were the first to do so on at least a few occasions over the last five years. If history is a good indicator, contract negotiator Cliff Stein could finalize multiple deals this week and league sources indicate that Stein is in negotiations with several agents. Marc Lillibridge, who represents wide receiver Johnny Knox (fifth round), attended the OTA last Thursday.

The Bears announced the signing of five of their 12 draft picks last year on May 30. Sources say Stein's goal is to have this year's picks finalized by mid-June, which gives him about three weeks to reach his unofficial goal.

The Bears have a total of nine picks to sign this year and with no selection in the first or second rounds, it should be straight forward and simple. All nine draft picks are expected to receive four-year contracts, a policy the Bears first implemented in 2003 in a contract with safety Todd Johnson.

The minimum salaries for all players will be:

2009 $310,000


2010 $395,000

2011 $480,000

2012 $565,000

Now that we're nearly two weeks removed from the draft, that can only mean one thing.

Training camp is right around the corner.

Cliff Stein will be cranking out contracts for the Bears' nine draft picks soon.

The Bears set a date of July 4 for when they wanted to have all of their rookie contracts completed in 2007. It's well detailed in Drew and Jason Rosenhaus' 2008 book Next Question. The Rosenhaus brothers go into great detail about the background behind the contract they negotiated for tight end Greg Olsen, the Bears' top pick in '07. More on that below.

Without first- or second-round picks, Stein's work as the Bears' contract negotiator should be less complicated this time around. One agent we spoke to earlier this week said he would not be surprised if the Bears have their business wrapped up by mid-June. Stein had 11 of the team's 12 draft picks under contract by July 8 last year. Only first-round pick Chris Williams lasted until July 23.

The team's top pick this season is defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, who is represented by Frank Bauer, the same man who represents Lovie Smith, Ron Turner and Bob Babich. Gilbert wouldn't be late to training camp if he was the No. 1 overall pick. The player selected in Gilbert's slot in 2008--the fourth pick of the third round--was Carolina cornerback Charles Godfrey. He signed a four-year contract with a signing bonus of $854,200. That represented a 3.5 percent bump over the $825,000 signing bonus Quincy Black, the Tampa Bay linebacker, received in the same spot in 2007. If there is a similar 3.5 percent increase this season, Gilbert's signing bonus will be right near $884,000. If the increase is three percent, the bonus will be closer to $879,800. The difference is an appearance fee at an auto dealership.

Wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias was also drafted in the third round, the 35th choice of the round. Atlanta safety Thomas DeCoud was in the same spot last year and received a $598,000 signing bonus. Working off that, Iglesias will be in line for a signing bonus of around $618,900, again if there is an increase of 3.5 percent.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Cliff Stein category.

Chris Williams is the previous category.

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