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The Bears have yet to re-sign veteran center Olin Kreutz.
Plenty of speculation is floating around about the series of events leading to the showdown between the offensive leader and the Bears.
The one-year deal talks apparently started with Olin at the $5 million end of the bridge and the Bears at the $3 million side. It ended with the Bears giving a $4 million take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum and Kreutz standing firm at $4.5 million.
So, $500K is standing between Kreutz playing or walking away.
There's an argument to be made for both sides.
From the Bears' point of view, Edwin Williams—the man Chicago has tabbed to eventually replace Kreutz—was the Bears' top-rated lineman last season, according to Pro Football Focus' offensive linemen premium statistics. And Kreutz was one of the worst run-blocking centers in the league last year. With Kreutz in decline, the Bears feel their offer is fair and are standing firm—at least for now.
But Kreutz probably sees it a bit differently.
While his run-blocking was third from the bottom, his pass-blocking rating was third also—from the top. In fact, PFF has him ranked as the league's best pass-blocker at his position over the past three seasons. Additionally, Kreutz's leadership and signal-calling on the line are a big loss. Plus Williams was signed to a one-year deal, which doesn't exactly signal a deep-seated confidence in Chicago's heir-apparent to Kreutz.
Kreutz also has another point, too. When he signed with the Bears in 2002, he took a lucrative offer from the Bears over a much more lucrative offer from the Dolphins because of team loyalty. Now, as he's in decline, he may feel like some of that loyalty should be returned, and $500K is a small number by NFL standards.
Speculation on this can be found all over, from the Bears not wanting to bring back Olin but wanting to push the public opinion backlash onto him, to the two sides playing a game of chicken that will end in Kreutz retiring as a Bear.
The real question comes down to this: Are the Bears truly comfortable with moving on at center, or is this all a game between the sides?
Grade: No grade yet, as there is no conclusion to the talks, but stay tuned.