Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said signing coach Lovie Smith to a contract extension is a priority, but he could not offer a timetable for a new agreement. Smith's contract is up after next season, but Angelo does not foresee going into the 2011 season without a new deal in place.
"We very much want to extend Lovie [for] the job that he's done and his staff," Angelo said. "So our focus, our intent is to extend Lovie. We wanted to wait until the season's over. The season is officially over for us, and that will be part of the business at hand in these next several weeks."
Angelo did not say how long of an extension Smith would be offered.
"We're fine. We'll get into that [later]," Angelo said. "We have a number of things on the agenda, and we'll talk about that, and when there's something to announce, we'll announce it. It's that simple." ...
Former Bears defensive end Richard Dent waited nine years before he got the call he believed would eventually come from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
On Aug. 6 in Canton, Ohio, Dent will become the fourth player inducted into the Hall from the 1985 Bears team that won Super Bowl XX. Dent was voted the MVP in that 46-10 rout of the Patriots with 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. The 6-5, 265-pound Dent was also voted to the Pro Bowl four times, but he said the Hall of Fame recognition for his lifetime achievements is the crowning glory for a 15-year career, including 12 with the Bears.
"This is my first award for my career, and, baby, it just doesn't get any better than this," Dent said. "It was worth the wait."
Although he wasn't drafted out of Tennessee State until the eighth round in 1983, Dent burst onto the scene with a franchise-record 17.5 sacks in just his second season, and he followed that up with an NFL-best 17 the next year, which ended with the Super Bowl victory.
Dent will join former teammates Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Dan Hampton in Canton, each of whom he mentioned as integral to his success, along with many other teammates and coaches.
"You can never get here by yourself," Dent said. "You can only get there with the people that gave you the opportunity to do what you do best, once you earn that opportunity.
"Being able to come to Chicago and practice and play against a guy like Jimbo Covert made my game easy. I knew I wasn't going to face a guy better than him in the National Football League, and I appreciate him so much." ...
Angelo understands the difficulties of playing quarterback in Chicago, but he believes Jay Cutler has the ability to handle the pressure, criticism and scrutiny that comes with the job.
"I've always said this town is tough on quarterbacks," Angelo said. "That's one of the prerequisites of playing quarterback in this town. If you don't have thick skin, this is not the town to be in. We have to deal with whatever adversity or pressure comes with the territory. That's why I personally wanted to trade for a veteran quarterback, somebody who earned their stripes here in the league, that was used to what comes into the fishbowl at that quarterback position.
"I think Jay handles what comes with the territory very well. He's paid well and he's paid to win, and that's just part of the game." ...
WR Andy Fantuz is the 10th Bears player to sign a reserve/future contract. The others are G Johan Asiata, CB K.J. Gerard, OT Levi Horn, LBs Chris Johnson and Patrick Trahan, FB Eddie Williams, QB Matt Gutierrez, WR Onrea Jones and DT Tank Tyler.
The 6-4, 220-pound Fantuz spent the last five seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL. He caught a career-high 87 passes last season for six touchdowns and a league-leading 1,380 yards.
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Extension for Smith Likely Prior to 2011
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