Step in the right direction

The Bears and John Tait have reached an agreement on the length of a deal and the financial terms. The two parties are currently working on the structure of the offer sheet and plan to work into the evening to finalize the deal.

The Bears feared they would lose out on another free agent Thursday as Tait visited the Dolphins, but the tackle left Miami without a contract offer and visited Halas Hall Friday.

Tait is the key to any semblance of free agent success for GM Jerry Angelo. Losing out on Jevon Kearse was a setback, but negotiations with the defensive end took Chicago out of the running for DT Cornelius Griffin.

The Bears are working on a front-loaded deal in an attempt not have the Kansas City Chiefs match the offer. Since the Chiefs placed the transition tag on Tait they have the right to match the offer for seven days. Kansas City is $5.5 million under the cap, while the Bear began free agency with more than $17 million in cap room.

The Dolphins were leery of sitting out of free agency for a week to find out rather or not Kansas City would match a potential offer. The Bears have no choice because their offensive line would be in disarray without improved tackle play. Also with plenty of money under the salary cap the Bears can still pursue lower tier free agents.

The feeling is that Tait will stay on the right side of the line, but that truly wouldn't be determined until mini-camps, if not training camp.

With the departure of guard Chris Villarrial to Buffalo, the Bears were considering going after top guards on the market. Jeno James of Carolina or Cosey Coleman of Tampa Bay had visits scheduled with the Bears, but that looks to be on hold until the Tait situation is resolved.

Grant Wistrom signed a 6-year deal with the Seattle Seahawks Thursday worth $33 million. He had been scheduled to meet with Chicago.

Multiple reports have said the Bears were looking into signing Miami Dolphins defensive end Adewale Ogunleye, a restricted free agent. Ogunleye had 15 sacks last year and 25 in three seasons.

However the price for signing Ogunleye is steep because the Dolphins tendered him at the highest level, a one-year $1.824 million offer. Meaning the Bears would have to surrender a first and third-round draft choice in 2005 to sign Ogunleye. With the possible Tait acquisition the Bears are likely out of the running for Ogunleye.

The San Francisco 49ers picked up a second-round pick from the Baltimore Ravens for Terrell Owens. If Owens' paperwork wasn't mishandled and he became a free agent the Eagles certainly would have made a run at the receiver. Therefore possibly taking Philly out of the running for Kearse.

In other news the Bears re-signed CB Todd McMillon to a one-year deal on Thursday. The special teams standout was among the team leaders with 12-tackles in that phase of the game.


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