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Thursday, July 25, 2013
Gould: Emery, Bears have no leverage

By Jeff Dickerson

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. -- Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said on Wednesday the club will wait until after the 2013 season to extend contracts, but Robbie Gould thinks the players are the ones with the leverage.

Gould is one of 43 players listed in the Bears’ media guide with an expiring contract next offseason.

“Here’s the thing, they have no leverage,” Gould said on ESPN 1000’s “Training Camp Live Show”. “There’s no leverage whatsoever, especially in my position. We asked to renegotiate two weeks ago and they said there was no money. Let me put it to you this way: if they wanted a guy they’re going to find a way to sign him if it meant that much to them.”

Entering his 9th NFL season, Gould is the most accurate kicker in team history and the fourth most accurate in NFL history with 208-of-243 (85.6 percent) of field goals made. Gould signed a five-year extension with the Bears in 2008 worth $15,075,000 that also included escalators that pushed the value of the deal higher in the last two seasons.

“The way I look at it is I’m not even that worried about it,” Gould said. “I was just with a guy who is going to become a free agent next year at my position last week and he’s going to get a deal done in the next two to three weeks. That leaves me being the only guy (at my position) at a young age, in the middle of his career, pointing in the up direction, so I’m not too worried about if they will re-sign me or not because I have all the leverage. If they don’t want to re-sign me now it’s going to cost them double at the end of the year.

“If they were smart they would try to get their core group of players and re-sign them before the end of the year and try to make it work, but a lot of us are sitting in a great position. You might see a lot of guys exit the Bears (so) this year has to be pretty special because if it doesn’t go as well as planned I can see them completely rebuilding. Or they might find a couple guys they think is their core group and get rid of some of the other higher paid guys.”

Emery cited the Bears’ current salary cap situation as the primary reason why the team failed to extend any of its players in the offseason. The Bears are expected to have more salary cap flexibility in 2014 when several pricey contracts are likely to come off the books.

"We have a number of players that are under one-year contracts or their contracts will expire at the end of this season. That would be part of the planning process for 2014," Emery said as the Bears prepared to open training camp. "We are always open to dialogue with our players and with their agents, but I will tell you that with where we're at with our current salary cap and the room that we have in our cap in our efforts to put together a championship team in 2013, I do not anticipate that we will do any extensions of contracts during this season. All those will occur, with the players it will occur with, will happen in 2014 and not during the 2013 season.”

But Gould feels the Bears' reluctance to address certain contracts now will result in numerous accomplished veteran players leaving the organization next year via free agency.

“The Bears have a lot of work to do and I would not want to be Phil Emery right now, especially if guys start playing really well it’s going to cost them a lot of money and they’re going to lose a lot of guys,” Gould said.” I’ve spoken to a lot of guys who are up after this year and they’re not worried about it. The bottom line is as a player you want leverage so why would I sell myself short at this point to get a deal done when I can go to free agency. I’ve never been there.

“I’d love to stay a Bear, but unfortunately right now that’s not in my hands because they haven’t offered me anything. Until they offer me something that I think is a fair deal, I’m not asking for the stars at this point, but if I go to free agency I’m going to be asking for everything. It’s just part of the business of football.”