Thursday, March 3, 2011
Posted: 8:42 p.m.
By John Mullin
Word now is that the owners and players will extend their fail-safe point 24 hours, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com (http:tinyurl.com486pj6g) and other reports. Mikes take is that the intent here is to buy time for concluding a longer extension, which I agree with since it is going to take longer than that to wrap up anything of real substance.
What remains encouraging through all of this is the absence of rhetoric intended to curry favor with fans, legislators or anyone else. That neither side is violating the cone of silence is a good thing, in small part because it suggests that neither side is wasting time and breath on invective and histrionics, which are beneath meaningless in a situation where there are no good guys.
The public thinks athletes are overpaid and that owners are greedy. In an industry where workers minimum wage is more than 300,000 and ownership already is making money in the billions, fans dont really care here whether a billion dollars goes to one side or the other. That the principals are talking to each other and not to microphones is a good thing.
The absence of a labor agreement hasnt stopped teams from locking up the likes of safety O.J. Atogwe (with Washington, five years, 26 million) and linebacker A.J. Hawk (Green Bay, five years, 6 million - 7 million per season, according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).
It wont rank with the dollars or years of those deals but the Bears not getting one done with center Olin Kreutz has been a touch surprising. Kreutz is not the long-term solution at center, which he and the Bears obviously know. Kreutz and the Bears are talking about a deal but its a short-term package for a guy who has made no secret of his wish to finish his career as a Bear.
The Bears believe they have alternatives to Kreutz in Roberto Garza and Edwin Williams. Both started their careers as centers but theres a reason why they didnt continue them there.
One suggestion made to me is that if the Bears land a draft target like Floridas Mike Pouncey, a projected starter at either guard or center if he comes to Chicago, Kreutzs chances of returning diminish, although his value as a mentor is borderline incalculable, even with Mike Tice coaching the offensive line.
And even if the Bears do not secure Pouncey or suitable alternative (a post-Tommie Harris defensive tackle is a priority), Kreutzs value is possibly even higher for a offensive line that could have only Garza or Kreutz back in the same spots they filled in 2010.
The Bears were wrong with Josh Beekman as Kreutzs successor. They cannot afford to be wrong again with a line still in transition.
Mike Martz said in a recent Chicago Tribune story that it wouldnt make any sense to part ways with running back Chester Taylor, as a source told CSNChicago.com that the Bears will be doing. Martz wondered why that would happen why you would release a running back whose average yards per carry has gone from 5.4 in 2007 to 4.0 to 3.6 and finally to 2.4 in 2010, who does nothing on special teams, who ties up 1.25 million of a salary cap that is very possibly going to dip in 2011, and who will be 32 this September.
It was Martz who was adamant about bringing in Todd Collins and then twice slotted Collins ahead of Caleb Hanie on the QB depth chart. It was Martz who needed free agent Brandon Manumaleuna, the tight end who was regularly fined in 2010 for failing to make weight.
And Martz told the Sun-Times that Garza played really well last season at right guard where he has never played before. That would be excluding the 74 straight starts Garza had at right guard prior to 2010.
So as far as what makes sense to Martz from a personnel standpointoh, never mind.
Martz is right from one angle, that it doesnt make sense to cut Taylor, now. He is not due prohibitive offseason bonuses and BYU rookie running back Harvey Unga, whom Jerry Angelo thought enough of to spend a seventh-round pick via the supplemental draft is coming off IR with a hamstring injury. Once Unga is through training camp healthy, with Garrett Wolfe back after tying for second in special-teams tackles, maybe the Taylor thing will make sense to some people.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.