According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Bears and their veteran center, Olin Kreutz, are at a stalemate in contract negotiations and the Bears appear to be ready to move on without him.
If true, that is a huge loss. Sure, Kreutz is not the player he once was, but make no mistake—he can still play the position more than adequately as he is the leader of that unit and the options to replace him appear less than inviting.
In fact, rather than go after a veteran on the free agent market, the Bears will likely move Roberto Garza to center if Kreutz leaves. That is playing with fire.
First, this Bears offensive line needs all the help it can get. Remember the 56 sacks it gave up in 2010? Well, the way to fix that is not to let a player take a position that he has never played before.
Having Gabe Carimi fall into their laps in the first round of the draft was nice, but if they lose Kreutz they will be taking a step backwards, almost negating the impact of Carimi.
So far at least, the Bears haven't added any free agent help for the line, other than undrafted free agents who aren't likely to make a big impact.
So where does the team go from here?
They can start by signing a guard, something they needed even before Garza was being discussed as a potential replacement for Kreutz.
But the team has only been players in the secondary free agent market so far, signing players like Roy Williams and Marion Barber.
Big names like Sidney Rice have gone elsewhere without even a sniff test from GM Jerry Angelo. That means it is likely they only acquire depth for the O-line as opposed to a starter.
Meanwhile, the NFC gets better.
If the Bears lose Kreutz it will be over perceived value. The veteran center feels disrespected by Chicago, who seem to be low-balling him.
According to the article, there are some unhappy people in the organization over this.
I say pony up the cash and get this guy signed. Why take the risk? The Bears came so close last year, it's time to go for it; they have the salary cap space.
If only Angelo understood this.