Who's Staying, Who's Going?
The Bears play their season finale today
Is Lovie Smith coaching his last game for the Bears?
Inside the climate-controlled Ford Field, it's 68 degrees and feeling like a typical NFL Sunday. But in the hallways of Halas Hall the past few weeks, it's been icy cold.
Few of the Bears players or coaches know whether they'll be back next year. It's quiet on the phones with agents who don't have much sway without a collective bargaining agreement. And it's quiet for the assistant coaches who don't know if they should be looking for another job. (yes they should!)
As the players are warming up in Detroit, here's a list of those who wear a Bears uniform that the fans haven't warmed up to.
- Ron Turner: Is it really the West Coast offense scheme, or is it more the drops, the lack of blocking, and underperforming talent he was given on the offensive line and at wide receiver? Either way, he and his offensive staff are likely to take the fall. When Jerry Angelo traded for Jay Cutler, they pretty much said, "Here you go, a franchise quarterback . . . win or else." So along with Ron Turner, pink slips will likely be given to his right hand man, line coach Harry Hiestand, wide receivers coach Darryl Drake (has Devin Hester become that no. 1 receiver they touted?), running backs coach Tim Spencer, and Tight Ends coach Rob Boras (what happened to Greg Olsen?)
- Veterans Who May Cost Too Much to Keep: Orlando Pace and Olin Kreutz on the offensive line, and tight end Des Clark. "What do you guys know that I don't know?" Clark asked reporters for the past three weeks at Halas Hall. "I'm going home after the season, take a break and I'll be back for mini-camps and OTA's -- that's all I know." Put Mark Nathan Vasher down as a guy who also could get released, but with three more years on his contract, what else can they do with him? (But really, in an uncapped year that the 2010 season is expected to be, does it hurt to keep these guys? Who else would they get?)
- Unrestricted Free Agents with More Than 6 Years of Service: Ninth year defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, who finishes the season on Injured Reserve, and eighth year backup running back and special teams ace Adrian Peterson. Pisa Tinoisamoa is also an unrestricted free agent, but barely showed Chicago what he could do before getting hurt and missing almost the entire season himself. He could return.
So those are the personnel likely to get the boot. But who's staying? Anybody who falls into the four to six years of service category. Guys who were scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, but if there is no collective bargaining agreement by March 10th, these guys will have to wait until their sixth year! Better unpack your suitcase Mark Anderson, Danieal Manning, Jamar Williams, Josh Bullocks and Nick Roach.
With next year being the big unknown in terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and fewer players now available, nobody expects much movement. Competition for the few players available will be too big.
And two more names you may have thought would have their bags packed to leave Detroit and go directly to their winter homes: Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo.
Relax. Neither are expected to lose their jobs. They're two guys you can cozy up to, if you'd like.
Peggy Kusinski is NBC Chicago's sports reporter and a former all-state basketball player. Follow her on Twitter for the latest Bears updates.