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Cedric Comes to Chicago, Still No Deal

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Aug 26, 2005 2:00AM

2005_08_sports_benson.jpgChicagoist has been pretty clear that were we stand on the Cedric Benson holdout. His holdout has now reached 32 days, he's missed 3 preseason games and he hasn't even spoken to the Bears in 11 days. Late this afternoon, news broke that Benson had come to Chicago and met with Bears GM Jerry Angelo. Talks ended with no progress, however. The fact that Benson has put his new Lake Forest home on the market also doesn't bode well...

Those wishing to give Benson advice have been coming out of the woodwork, from his former high school football coach to former NFL holdouts like Kelly Stouffer -- the last first round draft pick to hold out for an entire season. Stouffer did so after personally placing a call to the (then) St. Louis Cardinals owner after the team refused to budge from an offer well below league standard at the time, and team owner Bill Bidwill threatened him.

Benson, to our knowledge, has not been disrespected like Stouffer was and his offer from the Bears is more than fair. The $17 million guaranteed falls closer to the $18.5 received by 3rd pick Braylon Edwards than to the $15 million received by 5th pick Cadillac Williams.

Yet even so, Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti feels to the need to weigh in and tell the Bears to pony up. Chicagoist has long thought of Mariotti as the big idiot in Chicago sports media, and today's column simply adds to the pile of evidence. He suggests that Benson's greed is justified because running backs like Curtis Enis and Rashaan Salaam have wilted under the pressure created by the legacy of Walter Payton and Gayle Sayers. Wouldn't a bigger paycheck simply increase the pressure to live up to it?

Mariotti then insults the Bears fans for backing management.

Why fans would be interested in protecting the McCaskey finances -- after 20 years of ripping the family as cheap -- is beyond me. And don't advance the company line and tell me an extra million dramatically alters the salary cap, especially when the Bears hit and miss so wildly in free agency.

For one, the salary cap can be an issue. Again, it's not like the contract offer isn't fair. And why tie up cap room on someone who's unproven when we have seen such a high burnout rate among first round picks?

Mariotti further argues that the Bears need Benson, that their offense depends on him. In fact, Chicagoist believes the opposite is true. Fans have dropped their expectations following Rex Grossman's injury -- no rookie running back is the difference between the playoff or not. Maybe if Grossman were healthy, there'd be more pressure to get all the puzzle pieces in place for a playoff run. We'd rather see another subpar season and a chance at a top pick than another 7-9 season. Will a 3-13 record land us Matt Leinart?