Bears GM Phil Emery keeping his plans close to vest
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org March 10, 2013 9:09PM
Bears linebacker Nick Roach sacks Rams quarterback Sam Bradford in the third quarter of the Chicago Bears 23-6 victory over the St. Louis Rams Sunday September 23, 2012 at Soldier Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
a load of cap
There are 29 teams under the cap. These have the most space:
1. Browns $47.4M
2. Bengals 44.0M
3. Colts $40.5M
4. Dolphins $36.5M
5. Buccaneers $32.3M
6. Jaguars $31.9M
7. Eagles $31.8M
28. BEARS 4.2M
Note: Saints, Redskins and Cowboys are over the cap
the new kids
Seven teams have new GMs:
Browns: Michael Lombardi
Cardinals: Steve Keim
Chargers: Tom Telesco
Chiefs: John Dorsey
Panthers: Dave Gettleman
Jaguars: David Caldwell
Jets: John Idzik
Updated: March 12, 2013 7:08PM
The NFL news cycle slowed over the weekend during a new three-day negotiating period before free agency opens Tuesday.
There are two trains of thought for the negotiating period: First, the league can create its version of National Signing Day. Free agency begins at 3 p.m. Tuesday, allowing the NFL Network and the league’s broadcast partners to capitalize on the buzz. Second, teams have time to control the market and avoid overpaying.
The latter, though, might be unavoidable.
Since agreeing to a 10-year labor agreement in July 2011, the owners have reined in player pay, most notably through a rookie wage scale.
But there are a handful of teams flush with salary-cap space — five have more than $32 million available — and there’s an infusion of new general managers. Seven teams hired a GM this year, and six others made changes last year, including the Bears.
Thus, the expectation is there could be some surprisingly rich contracts announced in the coming days because a few general managers won’t be able to help themselves.
Don’t expect the Bears’ Phil Emery to be among them.
While some clubs have been aggressive about restructuring deals, re-signing free agents and clearing cap space by cutting players, Emery has bided his time and hasn’t tipped his hand.
It’s believed the Bears have expressed an interest in prominent free agents such as tight end Jared Cook and several offensive tackles and guards. Notable free-agent offensive linemen include Sam Baker, Jermon Bushrod, Andy Levitre, Phil Loadholt, Jake Long, Brandon Moore, Andre Smith, Louis Vasquez, Sebastian Vollmer and Eric Winston.
But indications are the Bears are among the teams unwilling to discuss contract parameters and until closer to Tuesday. One NFC personnel executive said his team didn’t want agents to be able to take its numbers and shop them to other bidders.
Emery has done a good job of keeping his business private. Last year, when free agency opened, the Bears and Miami Dolphins announced the trade of receiver Brandon Marshall for draft picks. Later in the day, the Bears announced the re-signing of cornerback Tim Jennings and the addition of quarterback Jason Campbell and special-teams ace Blake Costanzo.
In addition to free agents from other teams, the Bears are interested in re-signing some of their own. But they seem content allowing those players to gauge their value elsewhere.
For instance, the Bears would like to re-sign linebacker Nick Roach. But according to a source, the number of teams interested in him is approaching double digits. Roach has started at strong-side and middle linebacker in the 4-3 scheme.
The most prominent middle linebacker in free agency is the Baltimore Ravens’ Dannell Ellerbe. He’s expected to command a contract that pays at least $5 million a year. In the last two seasons (22 games), Ellerbe has 110 tackles with 4½ sacks, two passes defended and one forced fumble.
Roach has 104 tackles, 1½ sacks, eight passes defended and one forced fumble in the last two seasons (29 games).
For now, though, players and agents wait.
Some will get anxious and re-sign with their team. William Moore and Kory Lichtenstein were among the veterans who did that this weekend.
But others expect the market to pick up today — certainly Tuesday.
“It’s like the calm before the storm,” one agent said.