Metcalf Signs 6-Year Deal

Delaying the start of free agency by three days benefited the Bears after all. The additional time gave the team a chance to get a six-year deal done with Terrence Metcalf.

The deal includes a signing bonus of approximately $3.5 million and is worth $12 million over the length of the deal.

Metcalf would have become an unrestricted free agent on Monday at midnight. He started 13 games at right guard for the Bears in 2005.

"It's good to get Terrence Metcalf signed," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "He's a big part of what we want to do, so that's getting it off on the right foot."

Smith said Roberto Garza will go to the June mini-camp as the starter at the position, but that doesn't mean he's guaranteed anything.

"There's an open competition for all of our positions right now but you know who our starters are and we'll go from there but every player, we have a starting rotation at all of our positions, our players know that," Smith said.

Since the end of the regular season, the Bears have locked up Garza, Metcalf, John St. Clair and Lennie Friedman.

On the Mend
WR Muhsin Muhammad, who suffered a small fracture right hand in the playoff loss to Carolina, actually broke the hand on Sept. 25 against the Bengals.

"It didn't bother me," Muhammad said from the fan convention. "You just play through injuries. It's just part of the game."

The injury didn't require surgery, but could limit Muhammad in off-season workouts. He should be ready for mini-camp.

Although Muhammad admitted Antwaan Randle El would bring something to the Bears offense, whether or not the team will make a run at him remains to be seen.

"He's a good player. He's exciting," Muhammad said. "I think he definitely adds a dimension to the kick return game, the punt and the kick return game. Of course, you want to have high caliber players on your team.

"I'm not sure if the Bears are going to get a guy like that or if they're chasing a guy like that. But everybody wants great players on their team."

In Line for a Raise
While Lovie Smith is one of the lowest paid head coaches in the NFL, he continues to be politically correct when asked about a contract extension.

"I'm making a lot of good money," Smith said. "What more can I ask for? I'd like to be the head coach of the Chicago Bears for years to come."

Smith has two years left on his current deal that pays him an annually salary of $1.4 million.

Tying Up Loose Ends
The Bears will offer restricted free agents LB Hunter Hillenmeyer and DL Israel Idonije tenders by the Monday deadline.

Hillenmeyer is the only starter currently not signed for next year, but is expected back with the Bears because they can match any offer he may receive on the open market.

"Hunter's meant an awful lot to our program, we definitely would like to see him back here in a Chicago Bears uniform," Smith said.

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