Skip to main content

Angelo dealing with several issues going into draft

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- If Brian Urlacher wants a big raise from the Chicago Bears, he might be disappointed.

2007 statistics
G/GS: 16/16

Tackles: 123

Sacks: 5

INT/TD: 5/1

2007 statistics
G/GS: 16/13

Tackles: 36

Sacks: 8

2007 statistics
Recs: 20

Yds: 299

TDs: 2

2007 statistics
FG Atts: 36

FGMs: 31

Points: 126

General manager Jerry Angelo wouldn't address his demands specifically, but he made it clear some players might not be happy with their contracts next season. That includes Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris, record-setting return specialist Devin Hester and kicker Robbie Gould, who also want new deals.

"We consistently want to reward our own players," Angelo said during a pre-draft news conference on Tuesday. "That's our goal each and every year. Sometimes we do, sometimes we can't, but that's our goal. ... There are going to be times when we're not going to be accommodating. There are going to be times when players aren't going to be happy with their contracts."

Harris and Gould have one more year left on their contracts and Hester has two remaining, although the Bears could buy at least another season by slapping them with the franchise player tag if their contracts expire.

Then there's Urlacher. He wants to renegotiate his nine-year, $56.65 million contract.

"We'll get it resolved," Angelo said.

What that resolution is remains to be seen. But Angelo was adamant Urlacher won't get special treatment even though he's the face of the franchise.

"Fifty-three people want to be treated special," Angelo said. "How in the heck would we be able to run a business if we had to address every situation from every player when they come us? It's just not practical. And we think the world of Brian. The good news with Brian is he wants to be a Bear. He is a Bear. Everything is going well with his rehab."

Angelo said he met with representatives for Harris, Gould, Hester and Urlacher but would not reveal if any asked to be traded. He did say he does not anticipate dealing them and that he has not had discussions with other teams. But as for internal discussions?

"We've had talks about a lot of things," Angelo said. "I'm not going to get into those conversations. ... My ultimate goal is to make this team the best it can be, and if a trade would serve that interest, we would look at a trade."

He also pointed out several times that all four are under contract.

Urlacher made it known he wants to renegotiate the deal he signed in 2003. He skipped voluntary workouts this month, and there were conflicting reports last week about what he might do if he doesn't get a new deal.

The Chicago Sun-Times, citing league sources, said Urlacher's agents were asking for a trade and that Urlacher was threatening to retire because of back and neck problems. In that scenario, Urlacher would not have to give back any of his $13 million signing bonus.

Urlacher shot down the retirement rumor, telling the Chicago Tribune: "I never said that I was going to quit. That's just a gossip column. Reports like that is why I choose not to speak to the media."

He also told the paper the Bears offered a one-year extension through 2012, which reportedly would include $5 million up front and add $1 million for each year left on his current deal. But he wants two years.

Urlacher's situation is a tricky one for the Bears.

There are concerns about his health after he was hampered by an arthritic back and failed to make the Pro Bowl for just the second time, even though he led the fan vote at his position. He also had minor neck surgery in January.

"That's not crossed my mind," defensive coordinator Bob Babich said. "I'm very comfortable with Brian."

But Angelo acknowledged Urlacher's health "comes into play" when deciding whether to give him a new deal. Even so, there's something to be said for a team taking care of its own -- particularly one of the best linebackers in the franchise's history.

"We want to be fair to our players, particularly ones who have been Bears their whole career," Angelo said. "I'm very sensitive to that. ... I've put teeth into that. We've done the best we can do to show every player we appreciate them. I have a clear conscience about how we do our business."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.