The Bears offseason has entered the home stretch. Last Thursday, rookies and veterans began arriving in Bourbonnais, Illinois. With Week One of Camp Trestman behind them it’s time to take a look at how the team is progressing as the current roster of 90 players begin the process of winning positions on the final roster.
Phil Emery – Read My Lips, No 2013 Contract Extensions
The actual quote from Emery’s camp opening press conference is, ““I will tell you that 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.”
On one hand this means 34 players on the current 90 man roster are in make-or-break training camp and season situations for the Bears in 2013. Among that group are tackles J’Marcus Webb and Jonathan Scott, safeties Major Wright and Craig Steltz, five cornerbacks including Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Zack Bowman, kicker Robbie Gould and quarterback Jay Cutler.
While Emery has spent one full season in the general manager’s chair for the Bears, 2013 is really the beginning of his reign in the Bears’ front office. The perception from 2012 is that Emery gave Lovie Smith all the rope he needed to either save or hang himself. This year Emery can make personnel evaluations while being assured his coaching staff is reading from the same philosophy book.
On Thursday, July 25 Jay Cutler was being interviewed by Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times and while discussing Marc Trestman’s new program commented that, “Not everyone’s bought in, but that’s okay. We still have a lot of time.”
Where is the lack of buy-in coming from with the team? It would be difficult to say that it’s from anyone on the offense. Except for the 2006 Super Bowl season the Bears’ offense had been mired in mediocrity with Smith as head coach. Under Mike Tice as offensive coordinator in 2012 that offense was No. 16 in the NFL in scoring. The offense has also seen the most player changes this past offseason.
Even if there hadn’t been as many changes on the offense it would be difficult locating any lingering loyalty to the former regime from that side of the ball. Smith spent most of his time during his head coaching tenure working with the defense and it was those players who had the most to say when Smith was let go.
Still, the defense will see some changes with new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker in place but he’s using Smith’s terminology in an attempt to ease the transition for the Bears veteran starters.
Do either of these points have anything to do with each other?
Glad you asked. Yes they do. The Bears have already demonstrated with Gabe Carimi that anyone who either hasn’t, or won’t, buy into the new program will have a ticket bought for them out of Chicago. Emery and Trestman are going to be at the top of the Bears food chain for the next three years minimum. The players that they identify as the keys to building a winning team will get taken care of.
Also, just because Emery says in July that he doesn’t anticipate doing any contract extensions in 2013 doesn’t mean he’ll be feeling the same way in November or December. With salary cap expert Cliff Stein working the numbers for him don’t be surprised if Emery manages to put together an extension or two if he feels it’s the right time for it.
Thursday, 7/25 – Free agent signee defensive Tackle Sedrick Ellis failed to report to camp by midnight Thursday and later informed the Bears he was retiring
Saturday, 7/27 - Bears signed former Falcons 2007 first round pick (No. 8 overall), defensive end Jamaal Anderson to fill Sedrick Ellis' roster spot.
Monday, 7/29 – Free agent signee Turk McBride ruptured his Achilles tendon. The Bears reached an injury settlement and released him from the roster.
Monday, 7/29 – Defensive end Josh Williams is signed to take McBride’s roster spot.
Monday, 7/29 – Left tackle Jermon Bushrod strained his calf. He’s been evaluated as day-to-day by the Bears.
The real news behind Bushrod’s injury is that Jonathan Scott was the first tackle moved over to work on the left side then, when he hurt his knee, Eben Britton took the position. At no time was J’Marcus Webb asked to move back to the left during practice.
Wednesday, 7/31 – Linebacker D.J. Williams sustained a calf injury that’s will be evaluated week-to-week.
Calling Williams’ status week-to-week makes it sound like he could be out long enough to miss the Bears first preseason game against the Carolina Panthers. While he recovers Jon Bostic will do all he can to show he’s ready to take Williams’ spot as Brian Urlacher’s heir apparent at middle linebacker.
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