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Owner's Decision Affects Bears Contract Situations

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With the NFL owners choosing to opt out of the current CBA, this article takes a look at how the situation works into the contract situations of Tommie Harris and Devin Hester.  It also looks forward to potential re signings of Rex Grossman and/or Kyle Orton.

That unfathomable option—a potential Hall of Fame player being allowed to sign with another team, even for compensation—gave Hester unspoken leverage during ongoing negotiations to extend his contract.

Now it has vanished as quickly as Hester through the wedge on a kickoff return. If the 2010 season takes place without a salary cap, maybe the biggest result of Tuesday's vote, then an oft-overlooked provision written into the original agreement in 1993 extends the amount of required service for potential free agents in an uncapped year from four seasons to six.

That means Hester wouldn't be permitted to test free agency until after the 2011 season at the earliest—in essence buying the Bears two more years of highlights from Hester and more time to work out a long-term deal.

The most underpaid athlete in Chicago is scheduled to make $445,000 this season and $530,000 in 2009. He signed a four-year, $2.61 million contract in 2006 after he was the 57th overall pick in the second round. It should be filed under Hester Heist in a Halas Hall drawer.