Moon: Second extension to CBA talks likely

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Moon: Second extension to CBA talks likely

Friday, March 4, 2011
10:30 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The trickle of hope in NFLNFLPA negotiations hasnt stopped, which remains a good thing even if the ultimate prize of a new collective bargaining agreement hasnt been landed just yet. Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com encapsulates many of the wisps of thought circulating but the net is that a second extension to talks is appearing increasingly likely, and at this point this is more than just jockeying for some nebulous high PR ground.

The clock continues ticking and nothing other than these negotiations are permitted by an extension, meaning ostensibly that no contract negotiations can get done in the grace period. But the unmistakable mood is continuing to be guarded optimism from all reports.
Money matters
The Bears have given themselves some salary cap help with a deft restructuring of Julius Peppers contract, as first reported by ESPNChicago.com. Its a common move, one in this case that takes no money from the Pro Bowl defensive end but spreads out the cap hit of a 10.5 million bonus due him this year.

The option in the deal worked out by agent Carl Carey and Bears negotiator Cliff Stein allowed the Bears to change the bonus from a roster bonus, which is charged entirely to the year in which it is paid, to a signing bonus, which is averaged over the remaining years of the contract, in this case the next five. This saves the Bears 8.4 million under this years cap because instead of the 10.5 million being charged to 2011, the hit is about 2.1 million in each of the next five years.

Teams like roster bonuses because the money is charged and gone. But Carey and Stein incorporating the option helps free cap money for spending when the CBA situation is resolved.

And am I the only one wondering if Carey and Stein were left alone in a room, they might have this labor mess worked out by dinner time?

Kidding, obviously, but one of my favorite movies is Dave, in no small part because of the scenes in which Murray the accountant comes to the White House and pares about 650 million from the federal budget. Its Hollywood, but never, ever underestimate what common sense can do in the right hands.
Duly noted

CSNNE.com colleague Tom Curran will be visiting with Mike Florio on ProFootballTalk.coms Pro Football Talk Live. T.C. is one of the best and has had missile-lock on the Patriots for quite some time, which becomes significant here because Tom Brady and Logan Mankins are potentially among the A-list plaintiffs in any class-action lawsuit by the NFL players vs. the league in the event of union decertification. Also, Pats owner Robert Kraft is a major player in the CBA issues, and hes not a quiet one.

Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post does a quality, eminently understandable run-through of the issues now in front of the two sides in talks. Andrew was in the Green Bay front office during the 2006 negotiations and here he gives a nice thumbnail of how mediator George Cohen has structured the logistics of talks.

Robert Gallery, the Iowa big dog who became the No. 2 overall pick of the 2004 draft, is out of Oakland after he and the Raiders were simply too far apart on a new contract to leave any hope there. Gallery is not an elite talent at guard but in the right system and with a coach like Mike Tice. Now, guards have gotten into the 7 million - 8 million salary range and whether he fits price-wise and ability wise for the Bears is something better judged once the new salary cap is established once a labor agreement is reached. But rule nothing out.

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.

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

Bad blood fueled Bears-Vikings playoff bout profiled in 'Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon'

From the high ground of hindsight, what unfolded in the Metrodome that day in 1995 was actually quite a big deal. But not for reasons that you could have really understood at the time watching the Bears stun the Minnesota Vikings 35-18 in the wild card round of the 1994 playoffs.

It was not so much the game alone. It was the overall context of the time for the Bears, before and after.

Though the 1995 season would get off to a 6-2 start for the Bears before their near-historic collapse, the Minnesota game would prove to be the high-water mark for the coaching tenure of Dave Wannstedt. This was the postseason, and the Bears looked to be going where then-president Mike McCaskey envisioned when he made the play to beat the New York Giants in securing Wannstedt, who was unquestionably the hot coaching prospect coming out of the Dallas Super Bowl pantheon after the 1992 season.

To fully grasp the situation, you need to understand the undercurrent of venom that had developed between the Bears and Vikings. Bears-Packers might have been the glitzy rivalry, but what had grown between the Bears and Vikings was true hostility, with little of the respect that the Bears and Packers had managed. The Vikings carried grudges for Pro Bowl slights going back almost to the Bears' Super Bowl win. One Bears defensive lineman remarked that his most hated opponent was Minnesota right tackle Tim Irwin, adding, "He's a guy that, if I ran over him with a car, I'd back up over him to make sure I got him." Dwayne Rudd's backpedaling taunt after an interception came a couple years later, but you get the idea.

What's easily forgotten looking back through the mists of time was the epic decision made by Wannstedt to make a quarterback change, from a quarterback he wanted in free agency to one he knew well from their time together at the University of Miami. That was every bit the turning point of the season and the real reason the playoff trip and win ever happened.

The Bears had been annihilated in their first game against the Vikings in the 1994 season — 42-14 — and something was really, really wrong, which become glaringly more evident just a few weeks later, even though the Bears were reaching a 4-2 mark under quarterback Erik Kramer, the centerpiece of an aggressive offseason foray into free agency. But the Bears then lost — badly — to the Lions and Packers, with Kramer throwing three interceptions against Detroit and two against Green Bay, the latter in only 10 pass attempts.

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I talked privately to Kramer after the Green Bay game, specifically about why it was that he was playing his absolute worst against Detroit, Green Bay and Minnesota, all teams with which he was intimately familiar. My thought: You know those defenses and where their people are going to be.

Kramer shook his head: "The 'other guys' I know. It's my own guys. I don't know where they're supposed to be."

It wasn't a comment on his receivers whatsoever. It was Kramer admitting bluntly that he was not getting the West Coast scheme of coordinator Ron Turner and its timing element.

Wannstedt knew it wasn't working and made the change to Steve Walsh, who'd been the Hurricanes' quarterback under Jimmy Johnson when Wannstedt was the defensive coordinator.

That was the tipping point, and Walsh and Wannstedt are among the principals of "Bears Classics: Eclipsing Moon," airing on Monday at 8 p.m. on CSN.

Anyone with any time spent in or around the NFL knows that beating a team three times in a season is incredibly difficult. The Bears had been blown out in the first Minnesota game but had pushed the Vikings to overtime in the second and would have won had Kevin Butler not missed a 40-yard field goal try.

The playoff meeting was No. 3, and after the Vikings put up a field goal in the first quarter, the Bears scored with a Lewis Tillman touchdown in the second and just pulled steadily away from the winner of the only NFL division that produced four teams with winning records.

From there it would be another decade-plus — 2006 season — before the Bears would win a playoff game.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

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What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.