Chicago Bears Center Olin Kreutz, a 13-year veteran of the team, wants just one more year in a Bears uniform. The most experienced piece on a shaky offensive line, Kreutz needs one more season to tie Walter Payton's record for the most starts at 184.
For various reasons, the team and their veteran center can't seem to agree on how to make that happen.
"It is frustrating, we're disappointed," Kreutz's agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told NBCChicago. "We're disappointed Olin wants to be a Bear."
The difficult negotiations have led to speculation that the team will move on without him. The Chicago Tribune reports the Bears are prepared to move on, citing a team source as saying negotiations were a "ticking time bomb."
But Bartelstien, when asked, seemed to think a deal could still be made.
"It's hard to answer," he said. "I don't think we're that far apart."
Plenty of teams have called with interest in Kreutz, but talks with other teams haven't gone very far. Kreutz's desire is to remain in Chicago and he reportedly will wait until he's told to move on before talking seriously with other squads.
Kreutz's production has dropped but his value as a team leader and teacher to prepare Edwin Williams as the Bears Center of the future is "invaluable," according to teammate Chris Williams.
As the Bears put in their first practice at training camp, the team rotated Roberto Garza, who last snapped a ball at center in 2005. Chris Williams, their 6'6" guard, also took snaps but botched quite a few left-handed exchanges.
Kreutz is one of 11 remaining free agent centers available, including seven-year veteran Chris Spencer in Seattle. With Casey Weigmann re-signing with Kansas City, Kreutz has the next-most experience and half a dozen Pro Bowls in his pocket of negotiations too.