Bears

Moon: Second extension to CBA talks likely

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Moon: Second extension to CBA talks likely

Friday, March 4, 2011
10:30 a.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The trickle of hope in NFLNFLPA negotiations hasnt stopped, which remains a good thing even if the ultimate prize of a new collective bargaining agreement hasnt been landed just yet. Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com encapsulates many of the wisps of thought circulating but the net is that a second extension to talks is appearing increasingly likely, and at this point this is more than just jockeying for some nebulous high PR ground.

The clock continues ticking and nothing other than these negotiations are permitted by an extension, meaning ostensibly that no contract negotiations can get done in the grace period. But the unmistakable mood is continuing to be guarded optimism from all reports.
Money matters
The Bears have given themselves some salary cap help with a deft restructuring of Julius Peppers contract, as first reported by ESPNChicago.com. Its a common move, one in this case that takes no money from the Pro Bowl defensive end but spreads out the cap hit of a 10.5 million bonus due him this year.

The option in the deal worked out by agent Carl Carey and Bears negotiator Cliff Stein allowed the Bears to change the bonus from a roster bonus, which is charged entirely to the year in which it is paid, to a signing bonus, which is averaged over the remaining years of the contract, in this case the next five. This saves the Bears 8.4 million under this years cap because instead of the 10.5 million being charged to 2011, the hit is about 2.1 million in each of the next five years.

Teams like roster bonuses because the money is charged and gone. But Carey and Stein incorporating the option helps free cap money for spending when the CBA situation is resolved.

And am I the only one wondering if Carey and Stein were left alone in a room, they might have this labor mess worked out by dinner time?

Kidding, obviously, but one of my favorite movies is Dave, in no small part because of the scenes in which Murray the accountant comes to the White House and pares about 650 million from the federal budget. Its Hollywood, but never, ever underestimate what common sense can do in the right hands.
Duly noted

CSNNE.com colleague Tom Curran will be visiting with Mike Florio on ProFootballTalk.coms Pro Football Talk Live. T.C. is one of the best and has had missile-lock on the Patriots for quite some time, which becomes significant here because Tom Brady and Logan Mankins are potentially among the A-list plaintiffs in any class-action lawsuit by the NFL players vs. the league in the event of union decertification. Also, Pats owner Robert Kraft is a major player in the CBA issues, and hes not a quiet one.

Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post does a quality, eminently understandable run-through of the issues now in front of the two sides in talks. Andrew was in the Green Bay front office during the 2006 negotiations and here he gives a nice thumbnail of how mediator George Cohen has structured the logistics of talks.

Robert Gallery, the Iowa big dog who became the No. 2 overall pick of the 2004 draft, is out of Oakland after he and the Raiders were simply too far apart on a new contract to leave any hope there. Gallery is not an elite talent at guard but in the right system and with a coach like Mike Tice. Now, guards have gotten into the 7 million - 8 million salary range and whether he fits price-wise and ability wise for the Bears is something better judged once the new salary cap is established once a labor agreement is reached. But rule nothing out.

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.

Chicago Bears planning a run at free-agent tight end Austin Hooper

Chicago Bears planning a run at free-agent tight end Austin Hooper

The 2020 NFL Combine is revving up off the field as much as it is on the field. Quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends kicked off the workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium, but it's what's going on inside the bars and restaurants in Indianapolis that should have Bears fans interested.

According to Jason Leiser of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears are preparing to make a run at prized free-agent tight end, Austin Hooper. The Falcons playmaker is the top free-agent tight end on the market this year and according to Atlanta's general manager Thomas Dimitroff, he'll be given the opportunity to find out what his market value is.

That number is likely to come close to $10 million per season, which seems like an impossible price to pay for a Bears team that's already up against the salary cap. But with a new CBA on the horizon, everything we thought we know about the salary cap could soon change.

Hooper would instantly provide the Bears with the kind of second-level threat the passing game's been lacking since, well, forever. Or, since Martellus Bennett left town in 2016.

Ryan Pace has to be careful, however. He's swung and missed on two free-agent tight ends since becoming the Bears GM. First, it was Dion Sims in 2017. Then came Trey Burton in 2018. 

Sims lasted just two seasons in Chicago. He totaled 17 catches as a Bear. Burton, who's battled injuries over his first two years in Chicago, had just 14 catches in 2019.

Pace doesn't really have a choice but to pay up at this point. If he hits on Hooper, the misses on Sims and Burton will be quickly forgotten.

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These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

These 3 tight ends improved their stock at the 2020 NFL Combine

Bears general manager Ryan Pace said earlier this week that he is going to explore every avenue when it comes to upgrading the team's tight end group. The 2020 NFL Draft will be a great place to look for the pass-catcher Matt Nagy's offense needs at the position, and three prospects elevated their draft stock at the 2020 NFL Combine.

Stephen Sullivan, LSU

Sullivan, the wide receiver-turned-tight end, was one of the most impressive players at the 2020 Senior Bowl, and he continued his rise up the draft board with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

Sullivan, who weighed in at 6-5, 248 pounds, ran a 4.66 40-yard dash, which tied for second-fastest among all tight ends. His 36.5-inch vertical jump is an elite number, too.

He was smooth in the on-field drills and showcased his effortless catching style. 

Sullivan won't be an early-round prospect. He's probably going to slip into Day 3. And if he does, the Bears have to give him a long, hard look. He has a chance to be the biggest sleeper in the draft (regardless of position) who can become an impact playmaker in the NFL.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Hopkins, like Sullivan, ran a 4.66 and looked every bit the part of a move tight end. He was smooth on downfield routes and caught the ball cleanly (for the most part). One of the concerns surrounding Hopkins is his tendency to double-catch. He did a nice job quieting that worry just a bit.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert 'O' was the big winner with his blazing 4.49 40-time, which ranks among the 10-best 40-times for a tight end since 1999, per the Mock Draftable database.

'O' is coming off a very disappointing season when he totaled just 26 catches for 306 yards and six touchdowns. But he lost his quarterback from 2018 -- Drew Lock -- and never got into an offensive rhythm in 2019.

It wasn't a perfect day for him, however. He loafed the gauntlet drill and continued the narrative around his game that suggests he doesn't give 100% effort on every down. But it's impossible to ignore his speed at 6-5, 258 pounds.

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