Longtime Bears center Olin Kreutz is represented by Mark Bartelstein, the founder of Chicago-based Priority Sports, one of the country’s largest sports representation agencies.
After hearing general manager Jerry Angelo’s comments, Bartelstein said he wanted to explain his and Kreutz’s side.
“I want people to understand the facts of this thing,” he told the Sun-Times.
Bartelstein took exception with Angelo’s approach toward the contract talks, and he made clear that Kreutz was willing to take a one-year deal to stay with the Bears, even though he wanted at least two years.
Bartelstein said the Bears first offer was Thursday afternoon, one-year, $3 million.
“He’s going to have the same role, the same job, but they’re going to ask you to take a 50 percent pay cut?” said Bartelstein.
Last season, based on his long-term contract, Kreutz’s annual average was $5.8 million.
But on Friday, Bartelstein said he talked to Bears coach Lovie Smith.
“Lovie said, ‘We’re not going to talk to another center. I know it’s frustrating. Just keep working.
He can’t practice until Thursday,’ ” Bartelstein recalled Smith telling him. ” ‘Just keep working at it.’ ”
Bartelstein counter-offered Saturday morning: one-year, $4.8 million.
Then, a few hours later, the Bears called back: one year, $4 million.
And they had one hour to make a decision.
“I knew what Olin’s response would be, after 13 years,” Bartelstein said. “I talked to him. I didn’t even tell him the deadline. After everything he’s done for the Bears, he didn’t want to have a gun to his head.
“The ultimatum is ultimately what convinced Olin that they didn’t want him back. If you value Olin Kreutz, and you’re a couple hundred thousands a part, you do something. But you don’t say, ‘Take it or leave it.’ “