INDIANAPOLIS — The Bears and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery’s representatives, Eugene Parker and Tory Dandy, had multiple contract talks during a week at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Leading those talks for the Bears is a new face, director of football administration Joey Laine.
Last year at this time, Cliff Stein still was the Bears’ chief negotiator. Laine, who previously was the Saints’ salary-cap analyst, reunited with Bears general manager Ryan Pace in May, several weeks after free agency opened.
Stein, who worked under former GMs Jerry Angelo and Phil Emery, was retained as general counsel. The Bears will turn to Stein for advice, but Laine is the team’s primary negotiator.
Being a former agent, Stein often was praised by his former colleagues for his approach in negotiations.
“Cliff was the best in the business,” one longtime agent said at the combine.
But Laine isn’t new to negotiations. He handled many for the Saints. More important, Pace believes in Laine, and Bears chairman George McCaskey strongly believes in Pace.
“I have a lot of confidence in us working together and just the relationship we have,” Pace said of Laine. “When I talk about a player or describe a player, we’ve been around each other so long we pretty quickly come to a value together on what that player is in the market.”
One agent said it’s easy to develop a working relationship with Laine because of his honesty, preparedness and approach.
Laine also has a unique background, starting with the Saints as a scouting intern.
“He understands how we think when we talk about players, so he’s not just all numbers,” Pace said. “He gets the whole thing.”
Retaining Jeffery is the Bears’ biggest priority this offseason. He’s the first homegrown product Pace is trying to lock in. The Bears will give Jeffery the franchise tag if a deal isn’t reached by Tuesday, which is the deadline for teams to use the tag.
Follow me on Twitter @adamjahns