On the eve of free agency, the Bears have locked up one of their biggest question marks. But it wasn't a player.
FOXSports.com has learned that the Bears and Smith have agreed to a new four-year extension worth an impressive $22 million or $5.5 million average per new year of the deal. The team is expected to make an announcement and have a press conference tomorrow.
Smith was heading into the final year of the deal he signed when he joined the Bears, and it grossly underpaid him at about $1.45 million. The new deal gives him a major, major bump in pay and puts him on the level of guys like John Fox, Jeff Fisher, and other top-tier coaches.
Smith's contract situation had been an issue all year long, and shortly before the playoffs began, the Bears coach told FOXSports.com that he did not want to have any contract talks until the team's season was over.
There were rumors that the Bears had offered Smith a deal that averaged less than $3 million per year, but those rumors were incorrect. They were far apart but not as far the last few weeks as many believed. Then last week, his agent said there was a stalemate between the two sides. That stalemate, however, was bridged.
General manager Jerry Angelo also signed an extension and is now under contract through 2013.
More to come on this breaking story as it becomes available to BearReport.com.