One and Done

The Bears got some salary-cap relief for 2002 on Wednesday by restructuring wide receiver Marcus Robinson's contract.

The new deal came at a price, though. Robinson, who is coming off surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his left knee, likely will become a free agent in 2003.

"I feel I'm going to come back stronger this year, and I'm going to play very well and things are going to go my way,'' Robinson said. "And if things go my way, I'll become a free agent."

Robinson accepted a pay cut for 2002 that will save the Bears almost $1 million under the salary cap. In return, Robinson needs to make what he termed an "easily attainable" number of catches in 2002 for the final year (2003) of his contract to be voided.

A source close to the negotiations said Robinson will need to make fewer than 40 catches to become an unrestricted free agent in 2003 — a year in which the Bears will face some tough salary-cap decisions.

"In any negotiation, you've got to have give and take,'' Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said.

Robinson has played in just 16 of a possible 33 games since signing a four-year, $14 million deal, which he signed prior to the 2000 season. The Bears would have owed Robinson $2 million in each of the next two seasons if they had not restructured the deal.

Despite the salary reduction, Robinson will receive a $600,000 signing bonus to offset roster and workout bonuses he had in the old deal.

"This is definitely a relief,'' Robinson said about concluding negotiations. "We've been discussing this for a while, and it came to an end pretty quickly.''

Angelo said he told Robinson's agent, Ken Sarnoff, that Robinson could be waived on June 1 if he did not accept a restructured contract aimed at providing salary-cap relief. The renegotiation came about quickly once the sides began talking.

"Philosophically, Marcus and his agent agreed with what we were trying to do, and we both felt this was a win-win situation,'' Angelo said.

Robinson, who set a Bears single-season receiving record in 1999 with 1,400 yards, caught 23 passes for 269 yards last season before going on injured reserve on Oct. 23 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

The receiver also had back surgery during the 2001 training camp to repair an injured disc.

Angelo said the Bears believe Robinson will recover completely from the knee injury even though it was similar to the one that effectively ended running back Curtis Enis' career.

"We're satisfied that he's going to be ready to go,'' Angelo said. "He was on probably what would have been a career year (last season) at the pace he was going at, so we feel very strongly that he's capable of coming back at that level."

If Robinson does perform up to expectations, the Bears may lose their best playmaker.


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