The Bears had their final “open locker room” session of the season Monday, following their 24-20 loss to the Lions in the season finale Sunday at Soldier Field. Not all the players were available — that never happens — but some key players such as Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Zach Miller and Antrel Rolle were among those who showed up on “locker clean-out” day. The highlights:
Alshon Jeffery, a free agent, on the importance of money:
“It’s not about the money. It’s also about what’s the right situation for me — like winning a championship. That’s all I care about.
Alshon Jeffery on if the Bears are the “right situation” for him:
“We have a great team here in Chicago. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out this year. But we have something to build off of for next year. “
Kevin White, who like Alshon Jeffery is represented by Eugene Parker, on “politicking” Parker go keep Jeffery in Chicago:
“Oh, yeah. They want to get it done. Al wants to stay here, we want him to stay here so I think it’ll be some good things happening on the field if he stays.”
Matt Forte on the possibly premature celebration of his career with the Bears:
“Everybody’s acting like it’s a going-away party, like a funeral or something. No decisions have been made. I can be back.”
Zach Miller on the altered culture at Halas Hall under Ryan Pace and John Fox:
“It’s weird to say that like it’s establishing a winning culture around here because the record doesn’t say that. But the feeling around here is different. I can feel the winning culture being [established]. I can feel the foundation being laid, as far as from top to bottom — management and roster wise. There’s a special feeling about this group and this team and where it’s going.
“I haven’t been around a team or a group of coaches, a staff similar to this as far as everything they do and their vision of winning. It’s exciting.”
Jermon Bushrod on the likelihood he won’t be back in 2016:
“Yeah, it’s tough. I’ve grown close to the guys here. I love this organization and everything it is about. [Whatever happens], I’m appreciative of my time here. I’ve cherished my time here. I’ve worked hard and that’s all you can do. This year was tough for me physically, mentally and emotionally, but with the right people around me we got through it.”
Antrel Rolle on his offseason training regimen after missing eight games because of injuries:
“I’ll … probably go a little harder. I’ve had a lot of time to rest obviously. So my body doesn’t need the rest as it would normally after a season. So I’m going to push myself a little bit harder. I have a lot to prove, a lot to prove to myself, a lot to prove to the players here, the guys here in the organization. And I take that with a badge of honor. I want to do everything I can to show them that there’s nothing lost. If anything, there’s going to be a gain and I’ll come back and be a playmaker.”
Antrel Rolle on the identity of the Bears under John Fox:
When teams have losing seasons as we’ve had, normally there’s a lot of chatter in the locker room, normally there’s a lot of finger pointing. There are a lot of things that can take place that you really don’t want to take place. And we haven’t seen any of that here. That’s a huge step.
“That might not be a huge step from the outside looking in. But from within, it’s a huge step and it tells a lot about the character of guys that you have here. We win as a team, we lose as a team and more importantly, we understand that we’ve lost some pretty close games. Our record could have easily been 12-4, 11-5. But we were on the losing end of the stick.
“So there’s a lot of room here for improvement. But I think we have the guys here, the core group of guys who are willing to make that work and willing to do the extras and the sacrifices of whatever we need in order to have this a winning organization again.”
Robbie Gould on his 2015 season, in which he was 33-of-39 (84.6 percent) on field goals:
“I thought that I had a good year, not a great year. There were things coming in here that were pretty important to me as the season went on and one of those was winning the Super Bowl. And we didn’t get that done.
“I’m just excited to get ready for next year. And we can build on some of the things that we had happen this year. There’s some things that were exciting: breaking the points record, the field goal record. I mean, I was tied for second or top five in the league in field goals made. My field goal percentage was 85 percent or something. So it wasn’t a terrible year. It just was a year there were some kicks I would like to have had back.”