Tough Decision

The Chiefs signed linebacker Warrick Holdman to a four-year, $12 million offer sheet that included a $2 million signing bonus Monday, which the Bears will have a hard time matching.

The Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache he hopes to have Holdman back, but is realistic about the salary cap driven decision Bears GM Jerry Angelo will have to make in the coming days.

"We'll just dig a little bit deeper and call on Bobbie Howard or Mike Caldwell or somebody else to be that other guy," Blache said about the possibility of losing Holdman. "Everybody in the league has lost people and every year you are going to lose people, particularly when you have success. As you have success everybody's going to want more money, a bigger piece of the pie, people are going to like your players better. If we had not won as many ball games our players wouldn't of looked as attractive to other people."

All along, Angelo has said the Bears will match any reasonable offer made to Holdman. However, the structure of the agreement will create a lot of long-term planning problems for Chicago. Holdman's first-year cap number is $950,000, which is fair market value for a starting weakside linebacker. The problem comes in the second year when his cap number soars to a little over $4 million.

In essence Angelo must choose between Holdman and the services of Rosevelt Colvin, also a restricted free agent. The Chiefs are figuring that the Bears won't match on Holdman because of the excessive cap charge in 2003 and would opt to put the big money into Colvin, who is 24 and was the team's leading sack artist in 2001 with 10.5.

The Bears have until Friday to make a decision whether to match the offer sheet. If they don't match, however, the Bears won't receive any draft choice compensation. They made a clerical error in Holdman's restricted free-agent letter by not checking off the compensation portion of the document.

Had they checked off the correct box, the Bears would be able to receive a fourth-round choice for Holdman.

Kansas City, who cut Donnie Edwards earlier this off-season when he refused to accept a $3 million a year salary, may have found his replacement in Holdman.

The former Texas A&M has upped his tackle numbers in each of his three seasons with Chicago. Holdman, 26, started five games as a rookie compiling 75 tackles (49 solo) and in 10 games during his second year had 87 tackles (63 solo) before being placed on the injured reserve list. He had his best season in 2001 when he finished the year second on the team in tackles with 145 total tackles (101 solo).


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