We've discussed the Chicago Bears' looming decision on the future of tailback Matt Forte. Left unspoken, for the most part, has been a similar dilemma they face with tight end Greg Olsen -- who is also entering the final year of his contract.
But unlike Forte, Olsen plays in an offense that doesn't maximize his skills or position. So in what qualifies as one of the surprises of Scramble'11, it appears the Bears are prepared to move on and at least seek compensation for his departure rather than let him walk as an unrestricted free agent next year.
That's the upshot of a report from Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, who viewed an email sent to all 32 teams from Olsen's agent, Drew Rosenhaus. According to the report, Rosenhaus wrote that the Bears had authorized him to seek trade offers. Rosenhaus later sent a second email asking that the first be disregarded, but it's pretty clear that something is brewing.
We discussed this issue on numerous occasions after offensive coordinator Mike Martz's arrival in 2010. Martz had typically devalued the tight end in his passing game, and before last season no tight end had caught more than 38 passes or six touchdowns in a full season under Martz. In the end, I thought Martz was too smart to under-utilize a player with Olsen's unique size and skills.
Olsen finished the season with 41 receptions, a Martz-scheme record, but on a personal level it was his lowest total in three years. If Olsen wants a market-level contract extension for a tight end -- which, by the way, he deserves -- then he's not likely to get it from a team that prioritizes blocking rather than receiving from its tight end.
That's not to say there isn't blame here. Generally speaking, good coaching is about adjusting schemes to fit the skills of your players, not the other way around. And what if Martz leaves at some point in the next five seasons, which is certainly a possibility? I'm betting the next offensive coordinator would like a 6-foot-5 tight end who can outrun linebackers and outmuscle defensive backs in the end zone.
It's always possible the Bears will decide to play out the season with Olsen if they don't get an offer they like. But at the very least, it seems they are not jumping at the opportunity to lock him up long term.
Recent Bears posts: Adam Podlish is the Bears' new punter. The team is working offensive line targets. Former punter Brad Maynard voiced surprising animosity toward well-respected special-teams coordinator Dave Toub. The Bears have a tough decision on a contract extension for tailback Matt Forte.