INDIANAPOLIS -- We start the news cycle early here at the NFL scouting combine. At about 9 a.m. ET, the Chicago Bears announced they have completed contract discussions with coach Lovie Smith by agreeing to a two-year extension. Smith is now signed through the 2013 season.
General manager Jerry Angelo said last month that the Bears' run to the NFC Championship Game had solidified Smith's future with the team. It would have been an upset had he not received an extension, and Friday was a soft deadline given Smith's previously scheduled 10 a.m. appearance in the combine media center.
I'll have more after Smith addresses the news, but for now we can note that Smith is now tied for the fifth-longest tenure among NFL coaches. Hired in 2004, Smith has been in his job longer than every coach but Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles), Bill Belichick (New England Patriots), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), Jack Del Rio (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Tom Coughlin (New York Giants).
From a long-term perspective, this extension reconciles Smith's future with Angelo's. Both men are now signed through 2013. More in a bit.