BOURBONNAIS – Bears general manager Jerry Angelo had a decision to make last season when Greg Olsen asked for a contract extension to stay with the team past 2011.
“He came at me hard last year,” Angelo said Sunday in his first public comments since the start of training camp at Olivet Nazarene University. “I understood it. I told him I’d think about it.”
Angelo’s answer was not what Olsen had hoped to hear. The Bears did not see the 2007 first-round draft pick as part of their long-term plans.
“I said, ‘You’re going to have to suck it up [and] do your job. You got a contract. We paid you well for your services,’ ” Angelo said. “He’s a professional. He took the high road. I respect that.
“Saying that, this year was different.”
That’s why Angelo shipped Olsen to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft. The Bears also signed tight end Matt Spaeth (6-7, 270), who primarily was used as an extra blocker during four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We’re really not looking for Kellen Winslow,” Angelo said. “We’re looking for Mike Ditka.”
In the spotlight: Angelo downplayed a question about whether he would continue to search for veteran free agents on the offensive line.
“We like our young players,” Angelo said. “We need to develop some of them. How are you going to develop them if you don’t play them? And if you don’t play them, then how do they know you believe in them? It’s a Catch-22.”
Angelo said the Bears landed an important target in seventh-year center Chris Spencer.
“We brought in an experienced center who is in the prime of his career,” Angelo said. “That’s the best we could do. Everybody has an opinion: ‘[The Bears] need this, they need that.’
“Well, tell me who you want. Who should we look at? Give me names. Don’t tell me about our problems. Give me solutions. I’m in the solution business.”
Money talks: A possible contract extension for running back Matt Forte figures to be a storyline throughout the Bears’ preseason and at least part of the regular season.
When might that story reach a conclusion?
“The timetable is yet to be determined,” Angelo said.
Next, Angelo spoke as if Forte were in the room along with more than a dozen reporters.
“Just be patient,” Angelo said. “Take care of your job as you already have and continue to do, and we’re going to do our part.
“But again, it’s a negotiation. You’ve got to find that common ground. That part of it will be a challenge.”
Bears bits: The Bears will conduct their first padded practice of training camp today at 7 p.m. Players wore shorts, shoulder pads and helmets for the team’s first two practices. ... Brian Iwuh has agreed to a one-year contract. He tied for second on the Bears with 18 special teams tackles last season.