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There is more than a $20 bill in Jerry Angelo's pocket.

The general manager likes to joke that he doesn't have money burning a hole in his wallet, and often references having an Andy Jackson in his pocket. That may be the case but the Bears have much more than that remaining in room under the 2009 salary cap.

A check on Wednesday afternoon of the most recent figures indicates that the Bears remain $17.67 million under their adjusted salary-cap figure of $135.9 million. That means the organization has committed 86.99 percent of its cap to this point and there is plenty of room left over for spending.

More and more it seems unlikely Plaxico Burress will be sitting down to the table to enjoy a piece of that (salary cap) pie. During our company-imposed vacation, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that commissioner Roger Goodell could come down hard on Burress and make it difficult for him to be on the field in 2009. Burress has reportedly turned down plea deals that would have landed him in the poky for a short amount of time, so short that he could have already done his time and be out on the street. Now, the case is trudging along through the New York court system. Goodell wants accountability from players and when Burress, who had a hole in his leg from his unlicensed hand gun, does all he can to avoid that accountability, it might not bode well for him when it comes time to hear from the league.

Burress' agent Drew Rosenhaus is doing all he can to drum up business, reporting recently that five teams are now interested in Burress. Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have come out and said you can count them out. There was a report out of New York that the Jets may have cooled on the idea. If the Bears are not in play, Rosenhaus' list just got trimmed in half, at least.

So, let's take a look at where that $17.67 million could go. Remember, general manager Jerry Angelo and president Ted Phillips said that although streamlining was going on in the organization, the football budget would not be affected by the economy.

1. Jay Cutler. We wrote here previously that the Bears will look to do something long term with Cutler, perhaps during the season. They'll need to make that move in October probably in order to take advantage of the cap room and apply money to this season. It makes perfect sense. Yes, Cutler remains under contract for three more seasons. But he has a $12 million roster bonus in 2012 that the team would probably like to avoid. Forget the idea of waiting to see how Cutler performs. They got him for the long haul and they're going to invest in him for the long haul. But quarterback deals take time to put together. Why not start during training camp?


Need proof the NFL is a year-round business? We've got plenty of football news moving toward mid-June with training camp less than eight weeks away. We're going to get to a Four Down Territory Q&A on Monday, so if you have any last-minute questions to submit, get them in. Let's cover seven issues here in a hurry-up offense:

1. General manager Jerry Angelo addressed the health of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris last week on the team's Web site. Harris has done occasional on-field work in the voluntary offseason workout program. When media was allowed at Halas Hall last Wednesday, Harris participated in positional drills.

"There's no major concern with him,'' Angelo said. "He's going to be up and going at some point here in the OTA's. We feel good about where he's at medically. There's nothing to be alarmed about. This is the offseason. We want to make sure that we take care of our players to the best of our ability and we're always going to err on the side of caution in the offseason. He's got an issue with his knee; we know that. He has to be smart about it, which he is. We've got to be smart about it, which we are. Is his knee pristine? No. it's not. But it's not something that he can't perform well with. We've been real smart about how to bring Tommie along in terms of his training program. He's not the only player. There are customized programs for most of our players because we don't want the wear and tear to happen during the offseason. We just want to be smart about how we bring our players along. We don't want to waste any mileage that players have in the offseason. The wear and tear comes during the season, not the offseason. The offseason is dedicated to conditioning, strengthening and training our players within our offensive and defensive schemes."

OUR SPIN: Look for Harris' work in training camp to be monitored closely and he could see limited action in preseason too. In the past, coach Lovie Smith has kept him off artificial surfaces in preseason and the Bears open the preseason at Buffalo, which uses an AstroPlay field at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bears are counting on big things from Harris after paying him a $6.67 million roster bonus and they're going to preserve him for when it matters most. The next big payoff in Harris' deal is a $2.5 million roster bonus due June 1, 2010. The club would like his balky left knee to be no worse for the wear then. We wrote it here a while back, don't look for players with questionable injury concerns to land rich deals from the Bears again, not after Angelo's comments about closely scrutinizing medical records when it comes to draft picks.

2. ESPN's Sal Paolontonio
reports that the lawyer for wide receiver Plaxico Burress is maneuvering behind the scenes in efforts to reach a plea deal before Burress' next court appearance in New York on June 15.

"Three teams are believed to be serious enough about considering Burress for the 2009 season that they have contacted his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to inquire about his legal status: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chicago Bears and the New York Jets."

OUR SPIN: The Jets and Bucs both had interest in landing quarterback Jay Cutler. Could the Bears beat them to the quarterback and the wide receiver? Obviously, Burress' legal situation needs to be ironed out before anyone is going to offer him a contract, but that process could happen sooner rather than later. He's still likely to face a suspension from commissioner Roger Goodell. How many games Burress would get is anyone's guess. Ex-Bear Tank Johnson received an eight-game suspension following the 2006 season after the raid on his Gurnee home. There was a provision in that suspension that allowed Johnson to be re-instated after six games. Remember, though, Johnson had a previous weapons arrest during his Bears' career. He was busted outside a downtown nightclub for having a weapon in his vehicle.


The Bears didn't make any attempts to deny their interest in upgrading the wide receiver corps going into the draft and in the days following it.

General manager Jerry Angelo said the club likely would have used its first-round pick on a receiver had it not packaged it to get quarterback Jay Cutler. Angelo said the team thought there would be someone potentially special available where they were selecting. With Cutler on board, Angelo then offered his second-round pick to Arizona for Anquan Boldin. Maybe the Cardinals were not that serious about trading the disgruntled star. They reportedly didn't even engage the Bears in talks after the offer.

So as comfortable as Angelo, Ron Turner, Lovie Smith and Cutler himself have said they are with the current cast of Bears' receivers, the team hasn't been shy when it comes to seeking an upgrade. If the Bears are still looking around for help, two free agents remain available and on the surface one is more interesting than the other. Agent Drew Rosenhaus announced earlier today via his Twitter account that a third team has inquired about the services of Plaxico Burress.

"Good news for Plaxico as a 3rd team has just expressed serious interest in signing him. I won't identify any of the teams at their request."

Could the Bears be one of those three teams?

Burress has legal issues in New York but reportedly could make some progress on that thorny matter next month. The New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already been linked to Burress, but he's not going to do any team any good from jail. Burress potentially faces 3 1/2 years in the joint for carrying an unregistered firearm in Manhattan last year, the gun that blew a hole in his leg. There seems to be some thinking that Burress will be able to avoid jail time, or perhaps avoid serving jail time during the season. Of course, that does not address any punishment that will be handed down by the NFL for violation of the league's personal conduct policy, but Burress could very well be in play for 2009. Multiple reports have shot down a report in Wednesday's Miami Herald that he could wind up with the Miami Dolphins.

Then there is the case of ex-Jacksonville wide receiver Matt Jones, who ESPN's Chris Mortenson reported will avoid further suspension from the league for his off-field misdeeds. Jones made 65 catches for 761 yards last season but the Jaguars, badly in need of receiver help, cut him loose. He was busted last summer for possession of cocaine.


Drew Rosenhaus has gotten around to talking up some of his Bears' clients on is Twitter account.

He's made it clear that defensive ends Adewale Ogunleye and Israel Idonije would be open to contract extensions with the Bears.

"This is the last year of Adewale Ogunleye's contract. At some point he would like to ink an extension and finish his career with the Bears."
"Defensive Lineman Israel Idonije is also in a contract year and we have reached out to the Bears to extend his deal."

Rosenhaus let the Bears know early in the offseason that Idonije would like a contract extension. He will turn 29 in November and has been a versatile performer for the team but does not have a starting role. Ogunleye turns 32 before the season and they are just two of the ends coming out of contract after this season.

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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