Monday, Jan. 24, 2011
By John Mullin
It is not a done deal, literally and figuratively, but the Bears run to the NFC Championship may have earned Bears head coach Lovie Smith a contract extension.
We very much want to extend Lovie and the job he has done and his staff, said general manager Jerry Angelo. 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.
The same sort of comment was once made by Angelo regarding an extension for then-coach Dick Jauron, which happened only after an acrimonious, bitter stretch of negotiations.
That is not expected in this situation. Smith was Angelos hire back in 2004 and Smith already was given one extension and hefty raise after the Bears reached the Super Bowl after the 2006 season.
The 2010 season was an overall positive, in Angelos estimation.
It was a success, Angelo said, laughing. Im still here.
Its not easy to get where weve gotten. You dont back into the NFC Championship game.
Get off Cutler
WATCH: Lovie Smith discusses the Jay Cutler injury
Like Smith, Angelo angrily reacted to questions about Jay Cutlers toughness and the Bears quarterback taking Twitter abuse from peers.
I think its crap, Angelo said. I thought the players were a union. If thats the way they unionize themselves, they have bigger issues than the ones they have with the owners. Im very disappointed in that. That to me is dirty pool. It is what it is. People are allowed to say what they want to say but that doesnt mean that its right. Its certainly not grounded.
The questions about Cutler never entirely went away even during Angelos overview wrap-up to the season. Angelo said that one reason that trading for a veteran quarterback was that an individual with NFL experience would be familiar with the pressures, although Chicago weather and fan base are tough on quarterbacks, perhaps because there have been so few good ones.
I cant even believe Im standing here talking about Jays toughness, Angelo said. Were trying to create some gray where theres no gray here.
WATCH: CTL panel debates Cutler and other Bears' issues
The Bears officially hold the No. 29 pick of the 2011 NFL draft. The last time the Bears selected 29th they landed a serviceable offensive tackle, Mark Colombo, although Colombos NFL service went to Dallas after serious knee injuries early in his Chicago career.
Angelo typically has selected linemen, both offensive and defensive, with his earliest picks. That is expected to hold true to form this year as the Bears look to build up their fronts on both sides of the ball.
But its not like we have a lot of holes or needs to fill, Angelo said. The Bears have 21 starters under contract for 2011, with only strong-side linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa on an expiring contract.
Angelo said the organization is planning for the offseason based on expectations that a new collective bargaining agreement will be reached between the league and its players association.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.