Worth the Wait

When Jerry Angelo signed John Tait to a six-year $34 million deal he knew it would be difficult for the Chiefs to match. The Bears just didn't want to celebrate until anything was official.

When Kansas City didn't match the offer sheet for Tait he became a Bear as of Friday night. The deal includes a $7.5 million roster bonus and $3 million signing bonus. Because Kansas City only designated Tait a transition player they will not receive any draft pick compensation from Chicago.

There were reports during the course of the weeklong wait that Tait was hoping the Chiefs would match the offer. However Tait cleared that up when he talked to the media Friday night via teleconference.

"When we got to Chicago and toured the facilities, it was just that my wife and I knew right away that this was the place we should be," he said.

"Talking with everybody, I was very impressed with coach (Lovie) Smith and we had a long conversation. (General manager) Jerry Angelo and everybody from top to bottom — it was just first-rate and we had a really good feel about it."

With the moves the Bears have made in free agency, the talent already on the roster and the new coaching staff in place Tait believes Chicago is on the upswing despite coming off a 7-9 season.

"I don't think they're on a rebuilding course; I think they're a team that has a really solid core and that they're close to being a lot better than a lot of people think," Tait said.

Adding Tait immediately upgrades an offensive line short on experienced tackles. The sixth-year player out of Brigham Young, who was the 14th player chosen in the 1999 draft, spent his first three seasons in the league at left tackle and past two at right. At this point it appears he will stay on the right side despite the lack of experience of the team's left tackle options and the importance of the position.

"I mean, I've played both positions, but everything they've said to me is that they want me to start at right tackle," Tait said.

The 6-6, 323-pounder shouldn't have a big adjustment to the Bears offense since Terry Shea will run the same attack that Tait played in with the Chiefs.

"That's a big thing with coach Shea being with the Chiefs, and I'm still in our same offense that we ran — that's definitely a big plus for me," Tait said. "Hopefully, I can be an asset to some of the other offensive linemen on the team as far as (teaching them) some things that worked out for us in Kansas City."

The Bears will take a salary cap hit of $11.58 million this season with the acquisition of Tait that accounts for about 14 percent of the team's salary cap. Angelo structured the deal to make it as difficult for the Chiefs to match. In doing so he included a $7.5 roster bonus that counts against the cap immediately. He also included a $3 million incentive if the Bears lead the league in rushing or passing. While that is unlikely to happen, it would have been a realistic expectation for the Chiefs.

Between the roster bonus, one sixth of the prorated signing bonus and the salary being paid to Tait he'll earn $14.5 million in his first Bears season.


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