Bears Finally Sign Benson


Jun 6, 2005
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Chicago, IL
Not like the Bears really need him so far.

From the Sun-Times:

Benson, Bears have a deal

August 29, 2005

BY BRAD BIGGS Staff Reporter

Ever since Cedric Benson arrived unannounced at Halas Hall on Thursday, the Bears had a sense a deal would get done before the weekend ended.

That belief proved accurate late Sunday as the last unsigned first-round draft pick agreed to terms on a five-year contract, two weeks before the regular season begins Sept. 11 at Washington.

Final touches on the contract will be made this morning when Benson arrives from Austin, Texas, and the Bears will hold a news conference at Halas Hall after practice. Benson could be the final piece needed for an offense with rookie Kyle Orton at quarterback that must be successful running the ball.

It's also the good news the club needed two weeks ago, when quarterback Rex Grossman suffered a broken ankle. One insider said coach Lovie Smith was unusually agitated by Benson's absence during training camp.

"We want the kid to be happy,'' a team source said. "No one likes these types of negotiations. We're just happy it's done.''

General manager Jerry Angelo was evasive when asked about the situation during practice Sunday afternoon, but he said talks with agent Eugene Parker were ongoing. The ball began rolling when Parker had a conversation with contract negotiator Cliff Stein late Saturday. They talked several times Sunday, and a call from Parker around 6 p.m. indicated that Benson was ready to sign.

The deal is believed to include roughly $17 million guaranteed, and the Bears did not reduce the offer as Angelo threatened to do more than a week ago.

"Cedric is excited and ready to go,'' Parker said. "We're happy, and he is ready to move on with his career.''

Benson visited with Angelo on Thursday when he and Brian Peters, his former baseball agent and a close adviser, popped into Halas Hall for an unexpected visit. Benson had put his Lake County house on the market, perhaps as a last-ditch negotiating ploy, and both sides listened to what the other had to say.

Sunday's fast-moving finale ended a 35-day impasse -- only 10 NFL holdouts lasted longer in the last 11 seasons -- and tested the patience of all, with team chairman Michael McCaskey saying the system for signing draft picks needs to be revamped. It's unknown whether Benson will suit up against the Redskins.

"That's between Cedric and Lovie,'' Parker said. "Whatever the football people decide. I can't comment whether [the holdout] will affect his rookie season.''

The Bears can petition the league for an exempted roster spot so they don't have to create room for Benson on the roster, which must be cut to 65 by Tuesday.

The Bears figured negotiations with Benson would be a struggle but never envisioned they would last through all of training camp and take five weeks. They tried to strike a deal with Parker when they were on the clock for their allotted 15 minutes for the No. 4 pick. Parker refused, and the Bears went ahead and drafted Benson, informing Parker they would not use as a base the contract given to San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, the No.4 pick in 2004. When Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards got a loaded deal as the No. 3 pick, it made negotiations even more difficult.

It was trying for both sides, who have done business together frequently the last four summers. The Bears have remained respectful of Parker during trying times, and in the end that probably helped.

"I've always had a great relationship with the Bears,'' Parker said.

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