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Built to Last

Here is a story also from The Chicago Sun-Times speaking on how the Bears unlike most other playoff teams have a chance to be good for a long time to come.  Here is the bit on the contract situation for  key players.

Still, the Bears are in an enviable position compared with a lot of other teams because they shouldn't be a one-year wonder. Unlike 2001, when they had 11 starters heading to some form of free agency after a 13-3 ride, this year's model is built to last.

Right guard Terrence Metcalf is the only starter who will be an unrestricted free agent. Linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Bears can match any offer he might receive. Two key reserves, guard Roberto Garza and cornerback/kick returner Jerry Azumah, also are headed to unrestricted free agency.

But the majority of the team will be around as long as the Bears want them. The defense is young, dangerous and under contract. Linebacker Lance Briggs and tackle Ian Scott hit the unrestricted market in 2007, and cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher are up in 2008. Tackle Tommie Harris and safeties Mike Brown and Chris Harris don't hit the market until 2009. Ends Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown will be available to the highest bidder in 2010, with linebacker Brian Urlacher under contract until the 2011 season.

The option for stability is also available on offense, with left guard Ruben Brown and wide receiver Justin Gage signed through next season and Rex Grossman, Thomas Jones, Bryan Johnson, Olin Kreutz and Kyle Orton all up in 2008.