Multiple tweets from Bears camp are confirming that the Olin Kreutz era has come to an end in Chicago after 13 seasons with the Bears. Kreutz was the most tenured member of the Bears, dating all the way back to the Dave Wannstedt regime. That distinction now belongs to long snapper Patrick Mannelly.
As for Kreutz, he departs the Bears after the two sides failed to reach a compromise on a contract that hit an impasse over $500,000. That’s a fraction of what they’ve doled out for their various reclamation projects, so it leads me to believe that someone within the Bears organization did not want Olin around anymore. You don’t get rid of a player you want when you have room under the salary cap for a half a million unless they’re not wanted any more. I’m not sure if this is Mike Tice, Mike Martz, Lovie Smith or Jerry Angelo, but someone’s got some explaining to do.
For all that Kreutz has meant to this organization, it shouldn’t come to an end like this. He should be able to go out on his terms and he should have retired as a Chicago Bear. Yes, he’s lost a step and hasn’t been a Pro Bowl level players for a few years now, but his leadership and presence in the Bears locker room and in the Bears huddle will be missed. In a normal offseason, with OTA’s and mini-camps to work through a transition phase, the move would be palatable. Now, it just leaves me with a knot in my stomach to think how Mike Tice will patch a new offensive line together. After a bad year last season, giving up over 50 sacks of Jay Cutler, Kreutz critics will argue that it can’t get much worse along the line. That might prove true, but I doubt it.
To fill the void left by Kreutz, the Bears signed former Seahawks center Chris Spencer. Spencer was a Tim Ruskell late first round selection back in 2005.
Jerry Angelo has scheduled a press conference at 5:30 PM Central, when I’m sure all of this will be discussed.