Bears at crossroads with high-priced players

If management decides to back up the truck after the season, a lot of the Chicago Bears' high-priced talent could be playing elsewhere next year.

"In this business you don't know," said defensive end Phillip Daniels, who signed a five-year, $24 million contract as an unrestricted free agent before the 2000 season.

 "It can be anybody," Daniels said. "I've seen some people get cut that I never thought would be. If it's my turn, it's my turn. That's how it is. It's a business. They make decisions upstairs, and you live with it and you move on. That's how it is. You can't dwell on it, you can't be angry, you just have to move on."

 Daniels was second on the Bears last season with nine sacks and tied for the team lead in tackles by a defensive lineman with 72. But he missed three games this season with a sprained ankle and came back at less then full strength. His numbers this year -- 42 tackles and three sacks - are down and do not correspond to his salary.

 "I don't know what they're thinking upstairs," Daniels said. "I don't know what's going to happen. I guess if you're injury-prone, (they) might look at that. I don't know if a lot of people will be gone, I don't know whether everybody will be back. I'll leave that for (G.M.) Jerry (Angelo)."

 Defensive tackle Keith Traylor, who signed a three-year deal prior to the 2001 season that could be worth as much as $6.3 million with incentives, knows at his age (33) that the future is not guaranteed to anyone. For that reason, he finds it easy not to count the days until the end of a disappointing season.

 "It's not hard at all," he said. "Actually, for somebody of my age, I hate for it to be over with because you never know what the next season holds for you. So I enjoy it while I can.

 "If I'm not back, I just have to deal with it. You get signals sometimes, but I don't want to say which ones I'm getting. I'll prepare myself for whatever happens. I think I can still give something to a team, especially in the running game. I think I have quite a bit to give."

 Traylor is about on schedule to duplicate last year's 45 tackles, including 8 for negative yardage, and he's had to anchor the middle for most of the season without Ted Washington after the pair of heavyweights worked so well last season.

 


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