Rare Breed

LAKE FOREST, IL - The Chicago Bears agreed to a six-year deal, $23 million with center Olin Kreutz Friday.

The deal includes a seven million dollar signing bonus. The contract makes Kreutz the highest paid offensive lineman in Bears history. He rejected a six-year, $25 million offer from the offer from the Dolphins that included a $7 million signing bonus.

"It's an interesting situation," said Kreutz's agent, Mark Bartelstein told ESPN.com. "He turned down considerably more money from the Dolphins. He wanted to show loyalty to his teammates and coaches. Miami did a heck of a job recruiting him, but he felt a sense of leadership on the line."

Kreutz earned a start in the 2001 NFL Pro Bowl after being named an alternate each of the past two seasons (1999 and 2000). The four-year NFL veteran started every game for the Bears last year and was part of an offensive line that allowed a league-low 17 sacks, more than 21 below the NFL average (38.6) and 17 fewer than the team permitted in 2000 (34).

The Washington product was acquired by the Bears in the third round of the 1998 draft (64th overall), appearing in nine games with one start in 1998, then starting 19 consecutive games over the next two seasons before a sprained left knee sidelined him for four games in 2000. He returned to the starting lineup for four games but finished the season on Injured Reserve after spraining his right medial collateral ligament. Over the past three seasons, Kreutz has started 40 of 49 games for the Bears at center.


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