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Bears anger some players by releasing Kreutz

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Associated Press
August 1, 2011
— Olin Kreutz’s 13-year run with the Chicago Bears ended Saturday on a bitter note, with his agent claiming the team did not negotiate in good faith while indicating general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith were not on the same page.

Either way, the six-time Pro Bowl center is gone. Taking his place is former Seattle Seahawks lineman Chris Spencer, who agreed to a two-year deal.


“We negotiated in good faith,” Angelo said. “We wanted Olin back. They saw it differently, and I have to respect that and obviously, they have to respect our position. It’s not about one person. There are a lot of moving parts.”


Clearly, Angelo is right about seeing things differently.


Agent Mark Bartelstein said the Bears never attempted to extend Kreutz’s contract last season and did not present a proposal until Thursday when they offered around $3 million over one year—roughly a 50-percent pay cut.


A day later, Bartelstein said Smith told him “Just know, I want Olin on this team.” He said the coach assured him that the Bears weren’t talking to other centers.


The final straw, Bartelstein said, came Saturday when the Bears offered a one-year, $4 million deal and gave Kreutz an hour to accept it, bringing an end to the negotiations with the sides $500,000 apart.


“I knew at that point,” Bartelstein said.


Safety Chris Harris made his feelings clear on Twitter, writing, “All I can say is wow when it comes to Olin Kreutz …………REALLY?!?!??!?!”


He followed that with this post: “Olin Kreutz departure won’t sit well in the locker room for a few days.”


“The last thing I wanted to do was go to Olin and say, ‘The Bears, after 13 years, are giving you an ultimatum of one hour. They waited to make a proposal. Now, a day-and-a-half later, they’re giving you an ultimatum.’”


Angelo said the Bears had to speed up the timetable.


because the market was starting to pick up after “a little bit of a dormant period,” and they were afraid to lose Spencer.


“The whole idea that they had to move fast because they were worried about Chris Spencer, I’m not buying that because if they wanted Olin Kreutz, they knew they could make a deal with Olin Kreutz and they’ve got plenty of cap room,” Bartelstein said, adding he wasn’t in serious negotiations with other teams. “The way it was handled, the message was sent, was nobody wants to go to work for someone who makes it seem like they’re sticking a needle in their eye to bring you back to work. That’s the way it felt.”


Angelo and Smith disputed the perception they were on different pages when it came to Kreutz.


“I resent the fact that something was written that said there is a divide, and regardless of what anybody says, that’s not true,” Angelo said. “That’s a lie. And it’s fabricated and I resented it when I read that. That to me was dirty pool. We talk about everything. Do we agree on everything? Absolutely not. You don’t agree on everything with your wife. How am I going to agree with 18 coaches and 15 scouts? It doesn’t work that way.


“But at the end of the day we’ve got to make a decision and we all agree on one thing: Once we make a decision, we’re all for it. We’re going to make it work. That’s what teams do.”


Smith said it’s “not Jerry and Lovie.”


“We make these decisions,” he said. “We’ve come to this conclusion. You try to negotiate. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. That’s how it happened for us. Everyone knows what Olin Kreutz has done for us in the past and that’s quite a bit. But this is a new year and we’re going in this direction, and we feel good about it. We have a good football team.”


But they might have to perform some damage control in the locker room.


Safety Chris Harris made his feelings clear on Twitter, writing, “All I can say is wow when it comes to Olin Kreutz …………REALLY?!?!??!?!”


He followed that with this post: “Olin Kreutz departure won’t sit well in the locker room for a few days.”


Smith called Kreutz “a great Chicago Bear,” but added it’s time to move on. Kreutz told the Chicago Sun-Times he was leaning toward retiring.



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