Breaking the bank

Although, free safety isn't considered a high priority position when building a winning football team, the Bears hope to keep <!--Default NodeId For Mike Brown is 722153,2003--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:722153]>Mike Brown</A> past this year.

"We're not looking at Mike's position; we're looking at Mike," said Bears general manager Jerry Angelo. "We all have great respect and admiration for Mike and we want Mike, as we do Brian (Urlacher), to be a Bear for the rest of his career."

The Bears signed Brian Urlacher to a nine-year extension Wednesday reportedly worth more than $58 million and a $19 million signing bonus, which makes him the highest paid defender in the game.

Brown will not receive anything in the ballpark of Urlacher, but could ask for one-third of the deal.

Despite the fact Brown hasn't made a Pro Bowl in his three seasons with the Bears he has led the team in interceptions the past two seasons. He's a leader on defense and a clutch player that sparked the Bears 13-3 division winning campaign in 2001.

Still, with the money the team spent on their middle linebacker will there be enough left for Brown?

Angelo believes Urlacher's deal will not hurt the team's salary cap flexibility.

"When you see these deals being done now people say, ‘well you either need to gut your football team now to do this or you have to really become a hostage into the future,' meaning you can't plan anymore, you really become stagnant," Angelo said. "We're not doing that, we're able to keep our team together as well as continue to plan for our future."

Brown's agent, Ethan Lock, and the Bears have discussed a contract extension, but there is still progress to be made.

"We haven't closed the door on doing something with Mike and we have talked to his people and will continue to talk to his people," Angelo said.

If nothing is done before training camp then in all likelihood Brown will test the market. The Bears have had mixed results at best with trying to bring back players that hit free agency.

Warrick Holdman and Olin Kreutz were both brought back after being offered contracts elsewhere, but the team might have overpaid for their services.

Over the past two years the team has lost Tony Parrish, Walt Harris and Rosevelt Colvin because they didn't tie them up before they hit the open market.

In early discussions the Bears reportedly offered Brown a five to six year deal at $12 million. The low tender supposedly insulted Brown, but Angelo is optimistic about something re-signing the free safety.

"I feel when we enter a negotiation we enter it because we feel strongly that our numbers are going to be very competitive," Angelo said. "We do a pretty good job of projecting what he should make and his value. The key is where he is in terms of his market value and once we determine that then you can talk numbers."

Hopefully, the two sides can get a deal done before the Bears lose another leader in the secondary.

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