BOURBONNAIS – The declaration by GM Phil Emery that the Bears would not be entertaining contract extensions before the end of the 2013 season was something of a surprise if only because of the double-digit number of players on one-year deals or in the last year of their existing contracts.
It was not going to be well received by everyone, and wasn’t. Kicker Robbie Gould was vocal in his feelings Wednesday night on WMVP-AM, that veterans will be grumbling, and that’s understandable.
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But the Bears are at a franchise tipping point with more than just Jay Cutler and veterans on all sides of the football. With that backdrop, the organization’s decision as expressed by Emery is likely to be emulated elsewhere in the NFL whether there are explicit statements about it or not.
Veterans like Gould, Charles Tillman and others want new paper because it brings with it guaranteed money up front and that’s the only sure thing in NFL contracts. Gould missed the last three games last year with what was a season-ending leg injury and that is every player’s worst-case scenario contract-wise, particularly at age 31.
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The Bears could end up with a good year and players costing more because of it. As Emery said regarding Cutler specifically, that’s a problem he wouldn’t mind having.
Because the ultimate reality is that the market, not the players or the Bears on their own, will determine what Cutler, Gould, Tillman, Roberto Garza, Tim Jennings, J’Marcus Webb and others are “worth.” No player likes the no-confidence “vote” that a lack of an extension can be construed as, particularly if you’ve given a big part of your professional life to an organization like the Bears.
But if the Bears do Gould (which they opted not to), does Tillman become more irritated with a “why-not-me?” reaction? Probably at some level.
Ironically, Emery declaring that there would be none effectively puts everyone from Cutler to Major Wright in exactly the same pool. He didn’t play favorites or turn down selectively; he folded his arms for everyone. Give him credit for consistency at least.
One reason why so many veterans were forced to do one-year pacts this offseason was that the salary cap has stopped going up, but teams like the Bears have players under contracts that pay significant and frequently increasing sums over this year and the next few. Julius Peppers, for instance. That shrinks available cap flexibility unless those players take cuts, which brings in a whole other issue.
The one-year-deal pattern will go on past this season. So will the Bears. So will veterans who can play.
The market will tell all.