Tait Signs Mega-Offer Sheet with Bears

The Chicago Bears have signed Chiefs right tackle John Tait to an offer sheet that includes a $14 million signing bonus. Terms of the six-year deal released early this morning indicate the overall value of the contract is believed to be worth $33 million dollars.

It was no surprise that Tait would receive an offer from the Bears. They clearly made him their top priority and target in free agency. After visiting the Dolphins on Wednesday, who also made a contract offer to Tait, headed to Chicago on Friday. After agreeing to the deal, Tait made it perfectly clear that he does not want to play in Kansas City any longer.

"I'm at a point right now where I really have to be careful what I say," Tait said. "I'd be glad to go back. There's a lot of good reasons I should stay. My teammates. The fans. I really like living in Kansas City. But I've made a decision on the team that I really want to be a part of. I'm in the mode right now where I'd like to play for the Chicago Bears."

In Chicago, Tait would move back to left tackle and be the anchor of an offensive line that will now play in front of Rex Grossman. Bears Head Coach Lovie Smith made it clear that he needed a solid tackle to cover the blind side of his new young quarterback.

Former Chiefs quarterbacks coach Terry Shea, who is now the teams new offensive coordinator was a big proponent of getting Chicago to sign Tait.

Tait had a tumultuous start to his career in Kansas City after a nasty and bitter contract holdout that centered around inexperienced agent Ethan Locke. However, Locke made the most of one of his few NFL clients and was able to convince the Bears to put up major coin to sign Tait to a contract that the Chiefs almost certainly will not match. The contract has several poison pills in it that would prevent the Chiefs from trading Tait and it includes a hefty roster bonus that will count toward the 2004 salary cap.

If the Chiefs don't match the offer for Tait, then they will save $6.2 million on the current salary cap and that might put them in a position to become a player in free agency.

But the Chiefs could try and secure a draft pick from the Bears to prevent them from matching the deal.

Late Friday afternoon, the Chiefs agreed to a six-year deal, $19 million contract with starting defensive end Eric Hicks. The deal reportedly includes a $3 million signing bonus and after visiting Arizona on Thursday, Hicks met with the Chiefs on Friday and quickly agreed to a new deal.

The Chiefs have been very quiet thus far in free agency and part of that reason might have been to wait and see what happens with Tait. The Chiefs have one week from Friday to decide to match the offer for Tait.

Kansas City is likely to take the entire week because that means the Bears who have to count the contract offered to Tait on their 2004 salary cap will be unable to do any additional free agent shopping. They are in the Warren Sapp sweepstakes and the Chiefs probably will stretch this out as long as possible so they can also interview possible replacements for Tait.

In other Chiefs news, there are rumblings that Troy Vincent will be in Kansas City next week to meet with Chiefs. He was once their prime free agent target but then the team appeared to have cooled on the idea of bringing in the 32-year old former Eagle.

Tight end Jason Dunn is being courted by two AFC West rivals. Dunn is talking to both the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders about becoming their starting tight end. In Denver, Shannon Sharpe has not indicated if he will return to the Broncos in 2004 and Oakland is looking to revamp their offensive and would like the double threat of Dunn on their roster.


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