Cutler goes down with torn groin

The rumors are already beginning even as Bears QB Jay Cutler discovers the extent of his injury that head coach Mark Trestman may already be looking for a replacement more suited to run his offense according to NFL Media columnist Michael Silver.

“Think about it — he (Trestman) had his greatest success with Rich Gannon, who was smart and moved well but wasn’t anybody’s idea of a big thrower,” one source familiar with the Bears’ situation told Silver. “If you’re him, do you want to spend $20 million a year on Cutler, who might not be the best fit, or do you want to find someone you can mold who’s efficient? And if you think about how deep this (next) draft class might be, he can identify his guy and get him relatively cheap for the next few years.”

The Bears take on the Green Bay Packers next and great seats and tickets are still available.

Bears Agree to 1-Year Extension With Briggs

The Bears agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2014 with the Pro Bowl linebacker, keeping one of their cornerstone players happy.

“This was by far the least amount of time I’ve ever had with the Bears trying to (negotiate) a contract,” Briggs said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

A person familiar with the situation said the new deal basically guarantees about $8 million over the next two years. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the terms were not released.

Briggs, whose six-year, $36 million contract would have expired in 2013, was scheduled to make nearly $4 million next season. Instead, he gets a $3 million bonus up front, along with a $250,000 workout bonus and $3 million in salary.

His salary for 2013 is $4.5 million, with $2 million guaranteed and $4.75 million for 2014. The deal also includes $250,000 workout bonuses in 2013 and 2014, plus roster bonuses of $1 million and $500,000 for those seasons.

“I’m grateful,” Briggs said. “I’m just very appreciative right now that the work has been recognized and that it got handled as fast as it did.”

Agent Drew Rosenhaus met with new general manager Phil Emery and lead contract negotiator Cliff Stein at the combine, and they agreed to table the discussions until the Bears addressed other roster needs. Once they resumed talks, it didn’t take long to reach an agreement.

“It’s a good thing for Lance,” Rosenhaus said. “It’s good for the Bears. It’s nice to see a happy outcome.”

Briggs pushed hard for a new contract at the start of last season, but the Bears wouldn’t budge.

With three years left on a six-year, $36 million contract, general manager Jerry Angelo basically told Briggs at the time to leave him alone when the linebacker asked for permission to seek a trade if he couldn’t get a renegotiated deal before the season. Briggs said he thinks they would have reached an agreement even if Angelo had not been fired following an 8-8 finish.

“There were some times where it was kind of difficult dealing with Jerry. At the end of the year, we had some open talks with Jerry, and he voiced that my contract is something that needs to be addressed,” Briggs said. “It just so happens that he got fired the very next morning.”

Briggs vowed he would never play “another down for Chicago again” after the Bears slapped the franchise-player tag on him for the 2007 season. He wound up accepting a one-year, $7.2 million contract and agreed to that six-year deal in March 2008.

Now, he hopes to finish his career in Chicago.

“My dream is to retire a Bear, and I know that I will retire a Bear,” he said.

Briggs entered select company this past season when he became just the fourth linebacker in franchise history to make seven straight Pro Bowls, joining Hall of Famers Dick Butkus, Bill George and Mike Singletary.

He led the Bears with 147 tackles last year, his eighth straight with 100 or more, and had eight tackles for loss. He also forced two fumbles, broke up three passes and intercepted one.

“We’re very excited for Lance and for the Bears,” Emery said in a statement. “Lance has been a very valuable and productive member of our team. Seven straight Pro Bowls is quite a record of success. This is a very positive step for our team in our efforts to win championships.”

The extension for Briggs is just the latest in a long line of moves since Emery was hired. He addressed the Bears’ biggest need by acquiring Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall in a blockbuster trade with Miami and signed running back Michael Bush to a four-year, $14 million from Oakland to team with the disgruntled Matt Forte in the backfield.

He also signed Jason Campbell to back up quarterback Jay Cutler, brought in special teams star Eric Weems and added cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite for depth in the secondary, but there are still some issues to address.

Forte hasn’t signed his $7.74 million franchise tender, and linebacker Brian Urlacher’s contract expires after the upcoming season.

Briggs said he hopes Forte’s situation gets resolved, adding “I want him to be happy.” As for Urlacher?

“I think that the Bears will do right by him,” Briggs said. “He’s coming off a great year, and hopefully, we can play until we’re 49 years old, if that’s possible.”

Running Back Michael Bush Joins Bears

Or maybe in a more visible role should Forte hold out after he earlier was slapped with the franchise tag.

Bush played four seasons for the Oakland Raiders, gaining 2,642 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and scoring 21 touchdowns. The powerful 245-pound back had his most productive season in 2011, setting career highs in rushes (256), yards (977), touchdowns (7), receptions (37) and yards receiving (418). He mostly was a backup to Darren McFadden but had nine starts last season when McFadden was injured.

“I was told that the rotation will be very good,” Bush said in a conference call after signing a four-year deal the Chicago Tribune reported was worth $14 million, with $7 million guaranteed. “I think there are enough carries to go around.”

Forte, who sprained his knee in early December and missed the final month of the season but went to the Pro Bowl, has not been able to get a long-term deal from the Bears. He was given the franchise tag, meaning he will make $7.742 million next season if there is no new contract reached.

Forte went to Twitter to express his opinion of the signing of Bush, saying he had been “disrespected.”

“There’s only so many times a man that has done everything he’s been asked to do can be disrespected! Guess the GOOD GUYS do finish last,” his post read.

Forte finished 2011 with 1,487 yards from scrimmage and 997 rushing in his fourth season. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. He was the first Chicago running back to make it to the Pro Bowl since Neal Anderson following the 1991 season.

Bush said he can relate to how Forte feels.

“It’s just one of those things where you want to be rewarded for your success. I understand, but that has nothing to do with me,” he said. “My job is to come here and play ball. If he wants to hold out, I know what he’s going through. I’m just going to be there doing what I’m supposed to do.”

Bush said he also visited the Bengals and was planning to go to Seattle before agreeing with the Bears. Re-signing with the Raiders wasn’t much of an option because there not much communication.

“I haven’t heard too much from them …” he said, adding he understands the business side of football. “I’m not upset with them.”

Under new general manager Phil Emery, the Bears have been busy. They traded with the Dolphins for talented but troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall and they signed backup quarterback Jason Campbell along with special-teams contributors Blake Costanzo and Eric Weems.

They also re-signed defensive end Israel Idonije, defensive back Tim Jennings, tight end Kellen Davis, backup quarterback Josh McCown and safety Craig Steltz.