On The Move

Five of the Houston Texans 19 selections were on the offensive line. Tony Boselli and Ryan Young are the bookend tackles, while Matt Campbell and Jeremy McKinney will likely be the starting guards. Ryan Schau is a tackle, but can play center.

Although, a solid line could be upgraded to a great line by the signing of center Olin Kreutz. Ultimately, the Texans are trying to protect their soon to be franchise quarterback David Carr, who expected to be the number pick in the draft. Following the expansion draft the Texans have approximately $30 million under the cap. The 2002 free agent class is weak, thus the reason the Texans spent over half of their cap money in the expansion draft.

However, Kreutz is one of the most attractive free agents because of his age. On the open market a Pro Bowl center will be in high demand especially for a team like the Texans, who have money to spend. Although, he's been in the league four years Kreutz is only 24.

These are qualities the Bears would surely miss if Kreutz signs elsewhere.

Olin Kreutz is among the players Jerry Angelo mentioned on the offensive side of the ball that he would potentially like to get something done with before the free agency period starts, which is March 1st, but he admits there are limitations to re-signing players because of the salary cap.

"Not every player that you like you can bring back irrelevant of how good a player he is short of him being special," Angelo said Now you're not going to let a special player out of the building irrelevant of what position he plays."

Does Angelo see Kreutz as a "special" player?

"Center is not a marquee position by most standards," Angelo said. "If you look at the league most centers are down the line draft picks converted players. Is that to minimize that the center position isn't important, it's very important. I've been on teams where you didn't have a center and it plays havoc. He truly is the quarterback of the offensive line."

Angelo said his rule to planning out a budget is to designate ten core players on the team five on offense and five on defense. On the offense he mentioned quarterback, running back, a wide receiver and two offensive linemen.

With Blake Brockermeyer, James Williams and Chris Villarrial all with big contracts it is unlikely Chicago would give a fourth member of the offensive line a substantial payday.

"Our Olin Kreutz is a very good player I'm not minimizing that, but we have a lot of money in other positions," Angelo said. "When you look at Villarrial, Williams, Brockermeyer we have a lot of money in our offensive line right now. I don't want to get cap loaded at one position."

Angelo walked into a similar scenario in training camp last year. Two high priced veteran defensive tackles were signed in Ted Washington and Keith Traylor as a result Mike Wells was deemed expendable.

Kreutz's agent Mark Bartelstein said the contract negotiations are ongoing, but the Bears have yet to meet their criteria.

"There's an incentive to get a deal done during the year because there's a risk of injury, but once the season ends there's no point in signing a deal before the free agency period begins," Bartelstein said. "The Bears know there is a lot of interest in Olin."

Bartelstein, who recently got Bryan Robinson a five-year deal worth $20 million, said the negotiations with Kreutz are unique because of his youth.

"Player only has so many opportunities to become a free agent, but at Olin's age (24) he can sign a shorter deal and go into the free agent market again in a few years."

One option to replace Kreutz if he leaves is Bernard Robertson, a fifth round draft choice in 2001. However, Robertson didn't see any game day action during his rookie season therefor there is a question of if the converted tackle is ready. Another possibility is Kevin Dogins. Despite being left unprotected by the Bears in the expansion draft he played sparingly as backup during the year.

At 29 years old Dogins would be more of a stopgap replacement until the 22-year-old Robertson is ready.

Bear Report Top Stories