Bears coach Lovie Smith will get a contract extension.
It’s only a matter of when.
“We very much want to extend Lovie,” general manager Jerry Angelo said. “Our intent is to extend Lovie.
“We wanted to wait until the season is over. The season is officially over for us. That will be part of the business at hand in these next several weeks.”
Smith, whose contract expires after the 2011 season, matter-of-factly said that “I love being the head football coach of the Chicago Bears every day I’ve been here and hope to be there for many years to come.”
Smith is believed to average $5 million on his last four-year extension. He has led the Bears to three NFC North titles, and he trails only George Halas and Mike Ditka in victories by a Bears coach.
In 2007, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has led his team to three Super Bowl titles, signed an extension that averaged $7 million a year. Former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers after reports the Miami Dolphins were set to offer a contact averaging $7 million to $8 million.
Mike Shanahan, who led the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl victories, signed a contract with the Washington Redskins a year ago that pays him $7 million annually.
Smith’s players have strongly backed him.
“If they don’t give Lovie a contract, that’s just ignorant,” Bears center Olin Kreutz told the Sun-Times on Sunday. “He’s proven he’s one of the best coaches in the NFL.
“He’s a hell of a man. You can’t say enough about him.”
Angelo, who’s under contract through 2013, didn’t want to talk about the length of Smith’s next extension.
“We’re fine,” he said. “We have a number of things on the agenda. We’ll talk about that, and when there’s something to announce, we’ll announce it.
“It’s that simple.”
Angelo insisted continuity was important for the Bears.
“It’s not like we have a bevy of holes or a bevy of concerns going into this,’’ Angelo said. ‘‘I know half the league wishes they were in our shoes right now.
“We feel very good . . . in terms of our future.”
The Bears having 15 players over 30 would seem to help Smith’s cause.
But Smith didn’t tip his hand Monday, and he didn’t last week, either.
“Since the day I got here, I have worked every day like it was my last day,” he told the Sun-Times last week. “As far as security, everyone has security that’s doing a good job. I feel like we’re doing a good job around here.”