On Wednesday, Phil Emery stated that contract negotiation and deals were not going to happen during the season. All current contract negotiations, and there are a lot of them!, would be dealt with after the season.
Specifically, Emery said “We have a number of players that are under one-year contracts or their contracts will expire at the end of this season. That would be part of the planning process for 2014.” Emery also added that “We are always open to dialogue with our players and with their agents, but I will tell you that with 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. ”
Does this surprise me? In a word, “no”. There are some things that need to be said and this is one of those things…now, make the actions match the words and you build credibility. Fail to live up to your words, and you enjoy a legacy like …you know, Jerry Angelo.
The Bears have a plethora of free agents to deal with at the conclusion of the 2013 season including Jay Cutler, Robbie Gould, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Major Wright as well as numerous players recently brought in under one year deals. The offseason is already shaping up to be lively and preseason isn’t even here!
When the headline broke, I have to admit that smile appeared on my face. This GM just killed two birds with one stone.
First, Emery just removed an element of drama that can find its way into the news, locker room and the consciousness of players. This is just not productive and while it may not necessarily lead to bad things…it in no way can ever lead to good things. Eliminate the distraction…cross that one off the list. My experience has showed me time and time again that there are no more contentious and personal dealings with people than that of money and pay.
You can say what you will about the business side of football…money is personal. Ask Brian Urlacher and Olin Kruetz. The money a person makes is directly proportional to the value the employer places on the skill and ability of the person. Ego and self-image are at stake.
Secondly, Emery just created an artificial deadline. The artificial deadline can and will be used to gauge a player’s intentions ahead of the real deadline. By that I mean there is a certain amount of posturing that goes on, but all players are betting against health vs. performance vs. luck. There will be an opportunity to negotiate with guys like Melton, but it is now plain to see that he is holding out for something more that the security that a home town discount brings.
Now, Emery can more accurately contingency plan. Melton showed his cards so-to-speak and if he turns in a dynamite season, then the Bears will pay him for it if they value him to that level. If not, the draft and free agency offers alternatives especially if Jay Cutler has the kind of year he is capable of, yet failed to achieve.
One certainty exists; there will be plenty of time to negotiate later. Some, like Robbie Gould, believe this posture will cost more money. Well, I beg to differ. As a GM, Emery has a cap. No matter what Robbie Gould or Jay Cutler or Henry Melton makes, it will cost some number approaching the salary cap limit. Gould is looking at it like a …well like a Kicker! That is why players have agents.
It is not the money the Bears spend that will define this team. The money to be spent is already defined by a salary cap. The intrigue is how and where the Bears spend their money! Can the Bears give both Cutler and Melton top dollar? Will Emery pay Robbie Gould like Jerry Angelo did? Can the Bears sign Tillman and Jennings again to short term deals?
The next off season is already guaranteed to be one filled with intrigue, drama and emotions!
What do you think? Do you like Emery’s stance or should he leave the door open to work out a couple of deals for key guys?