Olin Kreutz, Saints agree on deal

Updated: August 6, 2011, 12:34 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Chicago Bears Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz said he'd still play if he found a contender. He did.

Kreutz has reached agreement on a one-year deal for between $2 million and $3 million with the New Orleans Saints, a source told ESPN.com's John Clayton. Incentives could kick the deal up to $4 million.

The Saints host the Bears on Sept. 18.

Kreutz, 34, took it hard Saturday when talks broke off with the Bears, who had given him and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, an ultimatum on a one-year, $4 million contract, which was $2 million less than he was paid in 2010.

Kreutz was willing to compromise on the length of the deal, but the two sides were about $800,000 apart on the dollar amount. The team's first offer Thursday was close to $3 million.

Talks broke off quickly. Within the next 48 hours, the Bears signed former Seahawks center Chris Spencer, leaving Kreutz out of a job.

Kreutz talked about retirement, but after a few days to reflect, he re-opened the door to continue playing if he could find a team that can compete for a championship. The Bears went to the NFC Championship Game last season.

The Saints had an opening at center after the departure of Jonathan Goodwin, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

The 34-year-old Kreutz is considered one of the best offensive line leaders in his era. He is a six-time Pro Bowler and a four-time All-Pro. Kreutz was the Bears' third-round pick in 1998. During his Bears career, he played in 191 games and started 182.

Bartelstein said Friday that nobody really knew just how dedicated Kreutz was while in Chicago, playing through pain in 2008 and '09.

"People don't realize, the guy played with a bone spur that was embedded in his Achilles," he said. "He literally was playing on one leg. He wouldn't take time off and wouldn't miss a game. The average fan didn't know, the media didn't know. It was disappointing to hear fans say he wasn't playing well. That got fixed. It got removed. He's going to have an unbelievable season."

Kreutz had surgery after the 2009 season, and the doctor said he wouldn't be right until late in the 2010 campaign.

"Sure enough, that's why Olin started playing better at the end of the year," Bartelstein said. "He got his range of motion back. Now in the offseason, instead of rehabbing, he was training."

Kreutz is looking forward to playing for the Saints, and it has nothing to do with the money, Bartelstein said.

"It's funny, so many players -- and I represent so many guys and have done this for so long -- you often hear people say it's not about the money, but it usually is about money," he said. "And this is one guy who walks the walk. He got offered more from other people.

"He'll come in and be the leader of that offensive line. They have a great team."

Bartelstein never thought Kreutz would retire.

"I think after 13 years with a team, the way it ended really, really bothered him," he said. "It just bothered him and left a bad taste in his mouth. He was emotional about it, but he worked so hard in the offseason and he was in the best shape he's been in. I knew he wasn't going to retire."

John Clayton is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Information from ESPNChicago.com's Melissa Isaacson was used in this report.

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