LOVIE CONTRACT FAR FROM DONE
There are a few ways to look at the reports that the Bears and Lovie Smith are not only dollars apart, but years too.
The first is that it is all part of the game, simple rhetoric and positioning with both sides simply doing their negotiations to the fullest.
The second would be that even though the Bears got to a Super Bowl for the first time 21 years, maybe the upper brass is not convinced Smith is the man, or at least not for five more years. After all, it’d be hard to disagree that he’s been soundly outcoached in 2 of the biggest games the Bears have had. Last year in Carolina and then of course the Super Bowl against Indy.
The third would be the most likely based on historical precedent. The Bears are run on the cheap, like a bush-league franchise or both. Smith was the lowest paid coach in the NFL in 2006 and will be so again in 2007. This after he has them in a Super Bowl in just 3 seasons. Brian Billick just got an extension for $28.5 million over 5 years. The Falcons just signed Bobby Petrino–a rookie coach–to a 5 year deal worth $24 million.
Surely the money earned for getting the Bears to a Super Bowl and the increased value of the franchise covers whatever Smith is asking for. But the Bears, long known for screwing up good things, apparently are balking at a 5th year and increasing his salary to around $5 million per season.
Bears fans are likely growling today. Even if you are not a huge Lovie Smith fan, you have to admit the contract extension and reward are no-brainers. The Bears get to a Super Bowl and they won’t even pay fair market value for a successful coach.
Bears fans are incensed. But hardly surprised.