Uncertain future goes beyond coaches

LE Philip Daniels also is looking forward to another productive year during 2004, but will it be in a Bears' uniform?

"I understand that this is a business," Daniels said. "Whether or not I'm going to be here isn't up to me. If they want me back, they'll bring me back. If not, there are other teams who could be interested. It's my hope however that I will be returning to Halas Hall."

With just 2 sacks and one-year left on a $25 million contract Daniels is aware that a first-round draft pick is sitting behind him, in Michael Haynes and Alex Brown on the other side of the line.

"It's no secret that they've been doing well," he said. "That's how it is with us older guys. You never know who will be coming up fast behind you in t he lineup. They go out, fly around, and make plays, but I can do that too."

Although there were high expectations of Haynes when the Bears chose him with the 14th overall selection out of Penn State, for the most part the defensive end has stayed out of the spotlight.

While Haynes has appeared in every game, his role behind Daniels and Brown has limited his playtime time. On the year Haynes has 27 tackles (17 solo), two sacks and one forced fumble, but expects to step into a starting role next season.

"It's naturally the next step," Haynes said. "It's one of those things once you become comfortable with the system and once you feel comfortable with your abilities to be able to play at this level that's the natural next step. You want to start. Even now mentally I'm starting to be like ‘okay everything is starting to make sense I need to get out there.' Next year I've got to get there, I've got to work hard this off-season, work hard in camp so I can earn a starting job."

During Daniels' four seasons in Chicago he's enjoyed only one winning campaign, which is one reason he might not mind leaving.

"Ultimately, it doesn't matter where I am, as long as I have the chance for the win. I felt that way in Seattle, I feel that way here in Chicago. That's the whole point of playing. I think that I do that with for the Bears. They are a team on the way up I hope that (GM Jerry) Angelo recognizes my contributions and brings me back here."

On the other hand Angelo didn't bring in Daniels and with two younger players, both of which he drafted, behind the veteran it may be time two sides part ways.

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