With all due respect to Corey Graham, a valuable corner and special teams ace, the Bears may find themselves in a serious predicament should they fail to reach terms with longtime center/leader Olin Kreutz. And that predicament is not necessarily a physical one.
Kreutz is not that good anymore. Too often he looks slow to get around corners and too easily he seems to be blown off the ball in short-yardage scenarios. Whatever contract he signs will inevitably be a short one as it’s unimaginable to think he’ll be even competent at the position three seasons from now.
What Kreutz does provide are the intangibles we so often read about in the sports world. He is the Bears locker room. He is the one holding folks accountable in the huddle. Yes he’s the signal-caller at the line of scrimmage but he means far more to his four trenchmen (sounds like a folk band) and fifty-plus roster companions than even that.
And don’t get started with the fans. Ever since spurning Dave Wannstedt’s overtures from South Beach to stay with the Bears, Kreutz has been a folk hero on the streets of Chicago. When he crushed Fred Miller’s face with a weight at a shooting range he basically built himself a statue on the tough side of Soldier Field.
He’s not the player he once was. But he’s still the man and still the leader. And taking that presence out of the locker room when you’re making your Super Bowl push is not a wise move.