Chicago Bears: Contracts

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@mikecwright: Good question. It made me have to go through my salary files, which is always a good thing. With the way Matt Forte is performing, I'd say it would be a good idea to try to lock him up for the next three years or so with a new deal that will somehow represent a cap savings in 2015. He certainly hasn't shown any drop-off in play. As it stands, Forte is to make $6.65 million in base salary in 2015, which would count $8.8 million against that year's cap. We have all heard about the decline running backs hit when they turn 30, and next month, Forte turns 29, which is something the organization surely would weigh in any decision it makes. It's cheaper to keep a player when a team locks him up before he actually hits free agency (assuming there is a market for said player). I personally think the Bears would try to get something done with Forte early in the offseason, but the problem I see is the team will probably look into to redoing other contracts such as Alshon Jeffery, whose rookie deal also wraps up in 2015.

@mikecwright: I agree with you, Pierce. I think Josh McCown was a major loss for the offense, because in many ways he was somewhat of a coach on the field during his time with the Bears. McCown also set a positive example with his work habits, which was instrumental in teaching some of the younger players how to be pros. But I also see Jimmy Clausen taking on a similar role now with the Bears. I've been in the locker room when Clausen is on the field after practice, watching him work with some of the younger players, especially rookie quarterback David Fales. I even saw Clausen in the locker room the other day showing rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller how particular offenses are trying to attack him on a down-to-down basis. So, though the loss of McCown was major, I do see Clausen transitioning into that role very quickly.

@mikecwright: That would be a major knee-jerk reaction, and that's not the way the Bears roll. Go through this team's recent history, and see for yourself. There will probably be some firings at the conclusion of the season, but nobody will receive pink slips if the Bears lose Sunday to the Buccaneers.

@mikecwright: Vincent, just walked in from practice, actually, and that's my expectation based on what I saw. Besides that, Chris Williams hasn't practiced all week, and the club declared him out for Sunday's game. That means Marc Mariani gets the call, which should be interesting, considering he made the Pro Bowl as a return specialist in 2010 coming off his rookie season.

@mikecwright: Malcolm, I can't think of any other way to look at it. Phil Emery's first draft consisted of Shea McClellin, Jeffery, Brandon Hardin, Evan Rodriguez, Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy. Only McClellin and Jeffery remain on the team, and it's safe to say at this point that McClellin has been inconsistent at best as a linebacker. Emery followed up his first draft with a 2013 class featuring defenders Jonathan Bostic, Khaseem Greene and Cornelius Washington. Only Bostic has been a major contributor. Emery has said he wants to build the team through the draft, but to do that, you have to hit on your draft picks. I think Emery did a better job selecting defenders in his latest draft by adding Kyle Fuller, Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton and Brock Vereen. But I'm sure Emery would even say he has to do a better job with the draft. He also has to do better in free agency.


Jay Cutler not focused on deal

July, 16, 2013
Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said Tuesday he won't be distracted by entering the last season of his contract, and he doesn't plan on discussing the topic once the season begins.

"I haven't thought about it in a while, actually," Cutler said on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "I'll probably address it once in training camp, once before the season and that's kind of it. I'm not going to talk about it"

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Bears tag DT Henry Melton

March, 1, 2013
The Chicago Bears have placed their franchise tag on Henry Melton, the defensive tackle's agent, Jordan Woy, confirmed Friday.

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Emery stays mum on new deal for Cutler

February, 21, 2013
Jay CutlerAP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastNew coach Marc Trestman is excited to work with Jay Cutler and help the quarterback "maximize his ability."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Having once called Jay Cutler a franchise quarterback, Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery sees no problem with the new coaching staff taking a more measured approach in its assessment of the veteran player.

Speaking at the NFL scouting combine on Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Emery also declined to discuss the possibility of a new contract for Cutler, who in 2013 enters the final year of his deal.

"The No. 1 thing is that our team wins and that Jay improves, and all of our players improve," Emery said. "I know this: our coaches are excited to work with Jay. So whether it's a matter of semantics where I'm calling somebody a franchise (player) and (the coaches) haven't said that, I'm OK with that. I know in their heart they're here to work with Jay and help Jay become a better player, and the leader on our team that helps us wins football games and wins championships."

Entering the final year of his contract, Cutler -- despite playing just four seasons with the Bears -- leads the franchise in passer rating (81.9), and completions (1,034) and ranks second in touchdown passes (82), passing yards (12,292) and completion percentage (59.6).

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Melton hopeful for new Bears deal

January, 25, 2013
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton said Friday he remains optimistic the two sides can still finalize a deal before the start of free agency.

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Video: Jay Cutler Mailbag

December, 3, 2012

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler talks to Waddle and Silvy about whether he would take a "hometown discount" during contract negotiations to help the Bears surround him with better talent.

Bears sign three players

August, 11, 2012
BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears signed linebackers Xavier Adibi and K.C. Asiodu and defensive end Aston Whiteside on Saturday.

The team also waived defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron and cornerback Jeremy Ware, and placed defensive end Alex Brown on the reserve/retired list.

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Bears, Forte agree on extension

July, 16, 2012

The Chicago Bears and running back Matt Forte have agreed to terms on a long-term contract, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Bears had placed their franchise tag on Forte in March and the sides had until 4 p.m. ET Monday to strike a deal. Without a long-term deal, the Pro Bowl running back would have had to play the 2012 season under the $7.749 million tender or sit out the season.

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Forte remains optimistic about deal

July, 13, 2012
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte said Friday he's hoping to spend the weekend on the phone discussing a new long-term deal as the deadline for an extension approaches on Monday.

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Briggs would understand Forte holdout

June, 26, 2012
Matt Forte and Lance BriggsTim Heitman/US PresswireMatt Forte, left, has a supporter in Bears teammate Lance Briggs.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs wants to see Matt Forte report to training camp on time next month but would understand if the Pro Bowl running back decides to stage a holdout in protest of his current contractual situation.

Forte and the Bears have until July 16 to finalize a new deal otherwise Forte must play for the $7.749 million franchise tag amount designated for running backs in 2012.

"I hope (that Forte reports to camp) ... (but) I don't know, I don't know." Briggs said Tuesday on the "Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I've been in similar situations with what Matt Forte is going through, but like I said, I don't know. I hope so. I want him there. But I also want him to get paid the way he needs to get paid."

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- After producing a breakout season in 2011, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton enters the final year of his original rookie contract, but refuses to become vocal in his desire for a new deal.

[+] EnlargeHenry Melton
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastHenry Melton had seven sacks in 15 starts during a breakout 2011 season.
Melton said the team hasn’t reached out to him or his representatives about a new contract, but he’s “not going to let it really get in my way of being who I want to be this year.”

“I still have a lot to prove for this defense, and I do want to show that I am the guy of the future for this defense. We’re really just sitting back. I’m not going to let it be a distraction or be a distraction to the team or anything. We’re just letting it go.”

Scheduled to earn $565,000 this season in the final year of his contract signed in 2009, Melton finally in 2011 lived up to the high expectations placed on him by the coaching staff. Going into the 2011 season, Bears coach Lovie Smith consistently pointed to Melton as a player poised for a breakout year.

Melton responded with seven sacks in 15 starts, which tied for third in the NFL in sacks among defensive tackles.

This offseason, the club’s decision to not bring back veteran defensive tackles Anthony Adams and free agent Amobi Okoye provided further evidence of its confidence in Melton paired next to Matt Toeaina, with second-year man Stephen Paea adding to the rotation.

Melton likes what he’s seen so far from the defensive line during offseason workouts.

“Of course you can always get better,” Melton said. “Unless you finish first in total defense, you always can get better. Right now, we’re really just having to know where everyone needs to be and we’re going into some serious detail, a lot more technique. It’s looking good. We’ve got a lot of veterans, a lot of studs. We’ve got a big rotation. Pretty much whoever steps in can get the job done.”

Melton would prefer to continue to work his trade in Chicago, which in 2009 selected him with a fourth-round pick. Still, he won’t let the prospect of potentially departing derail what he’s expecting to be an even better campaign in 2012 than his breakout season of 2011.

“I love the city, the fans are great. I’ve got a lot of close friends on the team, and I love being out here,” Melton said. “I’d love to be here. I’d love to be the motor for the defense.”

Damien Woody thinks there should be no concern over Matt Forte's knees.
Former Chicago Bears 2007 third-round draft choice Garrett Wolfe is headed to the CFL after agreeing to terms on a two-year contract to play for the Montreal Alouettes, the team announced last week.

Wolfe, 5-foot-7, 186-pound tailback, was a member of the Bears from 2007-2010 where he carved out a nice role on special teams, recording 48 special teams stops during his final three years in Chicago. However, despite being the all-time leading rusher at Northern Illinois University with 5,164 career yards, Wolfe was used sparingly on offense during his time with the Bears, carrying the ball 72 times for 282 yards and one touchdown.

The Bears failed to tender Wolfe after his contract with the club expired following the 2010 season and he was unable to catch on with another NFL team last summer following the lockout. Wolfe was also involved in a highly publicized dispute at a Miami nightclub in May, 2010, however, he was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in the matter by the Miami-Dade State's Attorney office.

The Alouettes first 2012 preseason game is scheduled for June 14 versus Winnipeg. The club opens up the CFL regular season on July 1 against Calgary.

Matt Forte won't discuss contract

May, 17, 2012
WESTMONT, Ill. -- Running back Matt Forte declined Thursday to speak about his contract negotiations with the Chicago Bears, but he said he appreciated the public support of his teammates and liked the team's offseason moves to bolster the offense.

Forte was designated the Bears' franchise player in March, and the two sides have continued trying to work out a long-term deal. They have until July 16 to agree on a contract or Forte must play under the franchise tag, which would pay him $7.74 million in 2012.

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Bears extend Briggs through 2014

April, 11, 2012
The Chicago Bears announced Wednesday they had agreed to terms with linebacker Lance Briggs on a one-year extension that will lock up the veteran through 2014.

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