Maynard's Bears days numbered?
didn't think he was coming back, since feb.
Maynard's Bears days numbered?
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com Bears Insider
Free agents to watch
The expectation always has been that free agency would return to its previously agreeable form of unrestricted after four seasons, restricted after three, when players come out of contracts, and that’s a virtual lock. Some things to look for:
• The Bears to bring Pisa Tinoisamoa back at strong-side linebacker, where he started the first nine games of ‘010 and finished seventh on the team in tackles despite missing four games with a knee injury. Tinoisamoa received exceptional marks in post-season reviews and while he and Nick Roach pose some injury reservations, neither is likely to attract preemptive offers from other teams in whatever abbreviated free-agency period there is.
• The Bears days of punter Brad Maynard to close quietly. Insiders tell CSNChicago.com that Maynard and special teams coordinator Dave Toub weren’t always seeing things the same ways on directional issues deep into last season. Nothing super serious and there’s always some of that on NFL sidelines, but word was back around the Combine in Indianapolis that Steve Weatherford was the Bears’ No. 1 target, coming off a two-year deal with the New York Jets.
• The Bears’ defensive line to be significantly better than in ‘010, for three reasons. Julius Peppers is settled in even more; Israel Idonije is ensconced as the starter at the other side and not losing reps to Mark Anderson; and the tackle situation to be improved with Anthony Adams re-signed at nose, with Henry Melton and Stephen Paea giving the Bears their best 1-2 hit at the vital three-technique in several seasons.
Melton and Paea will be a major upgrade over the fading Tommie Harris and slightly undersized Matt Toeaina, the latter still giving the roster some valuable depth. And Adams at 31 won’t be a pricey re-sign for a quality veteran and all-around team presence.
Talks between players and owners progressing slowly
Sifting through the leavings in the wake of the owners meeting in Chicago this week and talks between owners and players picking up, more or less, in the Boston area subsequent to everyone finally escaping the Chicago tornado-microburst maelstrom that night...
Players were told via conference call Thursday that a deal wasn’t imminent, and it hasn’t been despite some suggestions to the contrary. But what’s becoming apparent is that the two sides are getting tired of the situation than they have been of each other, which was a problem. If people don’t like each other, they don’t work things out easily, and very little has been easy to this point.
But now, as Albert Breer of NFL Network notes, a measure of trust has been detected as aspects of the all-important revenue split are being discussed. The approach is being simplified and once that hurdle is brought down to a surmountable size, then there is real hope.
And when meetings ended on Thursday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and players head DeMaurice Smith were standing together to confirm that they were under court orders to make no statement. But standing together was the statement in itself. Make no mistake – that was by design, and a good sign.
Goodell’s mood late in the afternoon following the meetings seemed a touch somber, to use the word of one questioner. And he in fact wasn’t necessarily upbeat or enthusiastic or anything else after the meetings.
But reading anything much into that wasn’t a good idea, because a quiet mood at that point can be caused by three distinctly different realities:
• Goodell was pessimistic and was just feeling down because of failing to find reasons for a feel-good; this is the least likely of the three situations.
• Goodell was optimistic but was holding his breath a little, the way a kid does when he’s built something fragile (a word used by owners themselves) and is afraid to breathe too hard for fear of it falling over; this is more likely, because progress had been made and continues to be made this week.
• Goodell was just plain tired by 4 p.m. This was absolutely the case, optimistic or not.
“No [I’m not somber],” Goodell said. “It was a good day in the sense that we had a full discussion on the issues and I think our ownership continues to be determined to reach an agreement, make sure we play the full season. They’re united. They believe that in the best interest of the game we need to correct various aspects of collective bargaining. But everyone’s determined to try to get that done and still have the full 2011 season.”