Bears make final offer to Benson
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) - Upset and frustrated that running back Cedric Benson is still a holdout and the only first-round draft pick without a contract agreement, the Chicago Bears have made their final offer to the No. 4 pick.
"After missing all of training camp, we want to make it abundantly clear that the Chicago Bears have made their best and final offer to Cedric Benson," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said in a statement released by the team.
"No dollars are left on the bargaining table and at this point the only contract discussions that will be entertained will be reflective of the considerable loss of value to the club created by the players' extended absence," the statement said.
Benson's holdout reached its 26th day Thursday and the former Texas star has already missed two preseason games. The Bears' training camp at Bourbonnais, Ill., ended Wednesday.
The Bears are back at their Halas Hall training facility and play again Saturday at Indianapolis. They have two exhibitions remaining after that before opening the regular season Sept. 11 at Washington.
The Bears have been burned by holdouts from first-round running backs in the past, most notably Curtis Enis, who was drafted in 1998 and is who is no longer in the NFL after a disappointing injury-plagued career.
"The Chicago Bears have always placed a premium on having our players in camp on time," Angelo said noting that two other first-rounders represented by Benson's agent, Eugene Parker, were in on time - quarterback Rex Grossman and defensive tackle Tommie Harris.
"The failure to reach an agreement on a fair and reasonable contract has been a huge disappointment," Angelo said, encouraging Benson to end his holdout and report to camp.
The Bears expected Benson, the fourth overall pick in the draft, to challenge incumbent Thomas Jones for playing time.
"There is nothing new," Parker said Thursday evening, adding that he did not have a reaction to the Bears' statement.