Olsen, Bears work out unique five-year deal
Updated: July 3, 2007, 8:45 PM ETBy Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com
The Chicago Bears reached a contract agreement with top pick Greg Olsen, on Tuesday, making the former University of Miami tight end the initial first-round selection in the league to come to terms on his rookie contract.
And in striking the deal, agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bears negotiator Cliff Stein relied on a creative structure that could pave the way for other first-round signings. Olsen, the 31st player chosen overall in April, will sign a five-year contract with a maximum value of $10.696 million. Rosenhaus and Stein were able to overcome some hurdles presented by a recent ruling in a case involving former Denver first-round wide receiver Ashley Lelie, limiting the amount of bonus money which a franchise could attempt to recoup if a player defaulted on his contract. The contract will pay Olsen a signing bonus of $250,000 and a $720,000 roster bonus in the first year, with a 2007 base salary of $285,000. In 2008, there is an option bonus of $3.545 million, and there are reporting bonuses of $100,000 in 2009, $140,000 in 2010 and $125,732 in 2011. The base salaries in the deal, after the first season, are $370,000 (2008), $460,000 (2009), $550,000 (2010) and $650,000 (2011). Olsen can earn an additional $2.921 million in incentives and escalators and a one-time playing time incentive of $578,700. "It's a big relief, given that Greg has been with us throughout the offseason program," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo told the team-owned Web site on Tuesday night. "I mentioned to him and his family that he really built up a lot of good karma with the players and coaches [because of his attendance], and now this allows us to continue that momentum going into camp. When you don't get a deal done, or it drags into camp, all of that good will gets lost, and then it has to be rebuilt. So now, he can just continue to build on all the good things that he's done thus far and, obviously, we're excited about that." Olsen, 22, is the latest in a long line of former Miami standout tight ends, a group that includes Bubba Franks, Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow, among others. In 33 games, including 26 starts, Olsen, who transferred to Miami from Notre Dame, posted 87 receptions for 1,215 yards and six touchdowns. Regarded as the top tight end prospect in the draft entering the combine workouts, he cemented his status with a superb audition for league scouts in Indianapolis. At 6-feet-5 7/8 and 254 pounds, Olsen was clocked in 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a time faster than that registered by most of the wide receivers at the combine. He also had a 35 ½-inch vertical jump and his overall athleticism enhanced his draft stock. Olsen has acknowledged that, like most young tight ends, he will need to upgrade his blocking skills, but the Bears are confident he will play quickly and add another key dimension to their passing attack. Chicago was the first team in the league to have all its draft choices under contract in each of the past two years. The agreement with Olsen leaves the Bears with just one of their nine picks this year, second-round defensive end Dan Bazuin of Central Michigan, without a deal in place. Most teams in the league have yet to commence substantive negotiations with their first-round draft choices. Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
JC Ridley/WireImage.com Greg Olsen had 38 catches for 444 yards last season at Miami.