Bates Deadline Approaches

While it looked early on like the Bears would match the offer sheet signed between D'Wayne Bates and the Vikings, with one day left to decide, Chicago management is quiet on the issue.

Time is running out on the Bears to match an offer made by the Vikings to restricted free agent D'Wayne Bates. Chicago has until 3 p.m. tomorrow to match the offer and keep the wide receiver.

The Bears have called the offer sheet to D'Wayne Bates favorable, but they still haven't matched the Vikings' offer. Had Chicago not forgotten to check a box that would have allowed the team to receive compensation if they lost Bates, it is highly unlikely the Vikings would have made such an aggressive run at Bates, a third-round pick of the Bears three years ago, if they would have to surrender a third-round pick.

However, in the fast-moving world of NFL free agency, that is history. What is yet to be determined is whether or not the Bears intend to match Bates' offer. Most recently, the Bears have been quite on the issue, but they had originally slotted less than $600,000 for the re-signing of Bates, and the Vikings' three-year, $2.85 million offer sheet far exceeds the Bears' original intentions.

Still, while the Bears are loaded with depth at wide receiver, questions surround the whole corps. They are contemplating a release of No. 1 wideout Marcus Robinson after June 1, and No. 2 WR Marty Booker is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after next season. David Terrell is currently the No. 3 receiver in Chicago, and it could depend on where the Bears project Bates' future on that depth chart as to whether or not they match the Vikings' offer.

We'll know in one day.

* With the Vikings' fourth-round compensatory pick, they will have seven picks in seven rounds. As a result of two trades with Cleveland last year, the Vikings will not have a fifth-round pick. They will pick seventh or higher in each of the first four rounds, with their added compensatory pick falling as the 34th pick in the fourth round. They also have the fifth pick of the sixth round and the seventh pick of the seventh round.
* Dennis Green is reportedly auditioning for HBO's "Inside the NFL." Maybe he and Cris Carter will be together after all.
* Speaking of Carter, the Dolphins' interest in him has cooled, according to Miami coach Dave Wannstedt. Although the door isn't closed on Carter signing in Miami, it doesn't look like a deal is imminent anymore.
* Vikings coach Mike Tice admits that he doesn't see three starting linebackers on his team, but it doesn't appear that the Vikings are going to be getting into the free-agent stakes with a few of the top names on the market. The Steelers are expected to make a decision soon on either signing James Farrior or Earl Holmes, and Donnie Edwards has visits set with the Rams, Titans and Browns.
* While the Vikings continue their interest in defensive tackle Ryan Sims from North Carolina, Sims has visits set with nine teams, but the Vikings aren't listed among them.

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