Lovie Smith is close to a contract extension with the Bears, according to Comcast Sports Net. Smith, whose contract runs out after the 2011 season, is expected to continue to make around $5.5 million, which is what he is scheduled to make in 2011. That will place him among the league's top 10 coaches in pay, and keep him just ahead of Green Bay's Mike McCarthy.
If Smith signs his contract within the next two weeks, as CSN reported, the timing is fantastic. Let's say -- with fingers crossed -- that the owners and players work out a collective bargaining agreement by the Mar. 4 deadline. Free agency will be off and running as soon as that is signed.
Smith's signed contract in Chicago means that the Bears brass can focus their time on players -- free agents, draft picks and contract extensions for stars like Matt Forte. With a Smith extension plus deals for the assistant coaches, the staff is locked up and no longer an area of concern for the Bears.
The locked-up coaching staff will also be attractive to free agents and draft picks. Smith is a well-liked coach among players. His stoicism that is often seen as a lack of fire among fans is a positive to the people he coaches. Think about it -- would you rather work for a boss that yells and gets in your face in public or one that treats you with respect?
Players will want to work for Smith, and with him locked up in Chicago, they'll feel confident heading to the Windy City.