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Wednesday, July 20, 2011
BBAO: Importance of Olin Kreutz to Bears

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We're Black and Blue All Over:

If all goes as expected, NFL teams will soon enter a three-day exclusive window to sign their own free agents.

The Minnesota Vikings will get their chance to re-sign receiver Sidney Rice, who has previously indicated a desire to test the market. The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, will get three days to, in the words of the Chicago Tribune's David Haugh, avoid fielding the "NFL's worst offensive line."

That's how important it is to re-sign center Olin Kreutz, according to Haugh. "Nothing would sabotage their season quicker" than allowing Kreutz to depart. The Bears have no obvious replacement in house and need an anchor amid the moving parts they're expected to have at both tackle and guard positions.

Kreutz acknowledged he will return to the Bears as long as he's offered "a fair deal." Haugh suggests it should fall in line with the three-year, $12 million deal the Baltimore Ravens gave Matt Birk two years ago. The Bears will be some $37 million under the cap and will need to dish out a number of contracts in order to meet the NFL's new minimum for cash expenditures.

Concern arose when the Bears opted not to re-sign him before the lockout, but it's possible they were awaiting the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, as many other teams chose to do as well.
Kreutz: "Everybody knows the way I feel about the Bears. I've chosen them many times. You hate to toot your own horn but I've left a lot of money on the table to be a Bear. The guys at Halas Hall have to decide what's best for the Bears. That's the decision they're going through this off-season and probably why I'm not signed yet."

We'll find out soon enough.

Continuing around the NFC North: