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Bears’ best offer not to Olin Kreutz’s liking

According Bears player center OlKreutz was offered one-year $4 millideal. He made $6 millilast season. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

According to a Bears player, center Olin Kreutz was offered a one-year, $4 million deal. He made $6 million last season. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: November 2, 2011 4:00PM

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. — To a man, Bears coaches and players have heralded the production and leadership of longtime center Olin Kreutz.

Coach Lovie Smith, offensive line coach Mike Tice and players on offense and defense have highlighted his importance, which was evident on the practice field Saturday at Olivet Nazarene University.

With Kreutz unsigned, Roberto Garza was at center with the starters. Even 6-6 Chris Williams took a turn.

Despite just a handful of snaps, Williams bobbled three of them.

“Man, Olin is irreplaceable in this position and as a leader on this team,” Williams said. “He’s a guy who holds everybody accountable. He’s irreplaceable, and I can’t imagine playing without him.”

By Saturday evening, though, players were preparing for that possibility.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo provided Kreutz’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, with the club’s best ­offer: one year, $4 million, according to one Bears player.

Asked about that figure, Bartelstein said, “I’m not going to talk about the numbers. But our goal all along was to get a deal done with the Bears. At this point, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.”

Bartelstein wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Kreutz returning, and indications from the Bears are that they haven’t closed the door.

Bartelstein made clear that Kreutz wasn’t looking for a multiyear deal.

“There are people who think we’re looking for a three- or four-year deal, and that’s not the case,” he said. “The Bears know we were prepared for a one-year deal. It’s disappointing because there’s nothing more that I want for him than to continue his career with the Bears.

“I respect Jerry [Angelo], and he has to do what’s best for the Bears. But at this point, we can’t agree on Olin.”

Bartelstein said Kreutz has wanted a “fair deal.’’ Considering Kreutz made $6 million last season, he and his agent apparently don’t believe a $2 million pay cut is justified given that Kreutz would be expected to fulfill the same role.

In the meantime, Tice said that Garza, normally a starting guard, wasn’t supposed to take the first-team snaps. Edwin Williams would have handled those, but he couldn’t participate because of an NFL rule that requires restricted free agents who sign tenders to wait until
Aug. 4 to practice.

“We’d love to him back,” Tice said of Kreutz. “I understand the business, though. And what I have to have in place is a plan for us, for my bosses and my peers, that’s going to enable us to win if we don’t get him back.

“That’s where my mind is at right now. I can’t coach someone that’s not here.”

The Bears’ first-team line was Frank Omiyale at left tackle, Williams at left guard, Garza at center, Lance Louis at right guard and J’Marcus Webb at right tackle.

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