Agent: Lovie's Negotiations At Stalemate

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Lovie Smith's negotiations for a new contract are at a stalemate, according to his agent, who created a stir by saying the coach who led the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl could become a free agent after the 2007 season.

Agent Frank Bauer did not immediately respond to e-mail requests Thursday, but he told ESPN on Wednesday night that barring an unforeseen breakthrough a deal would not get done. That could make Smith a lame duck next season.

The Bears simply re-released a statement from team president Ted Phillips.

"We're going to continue to negotiate toward an extension which has been our goal and Lovie's goal," Phillips said. "Our intention is to keep our negotiations private and we will continue to do so."

Bears general manger Jerry Angelo told reporters Thursday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis that the team still wanted Smith to be its coach and that it was his understanding that Smith wanted to stay. He said he was confident a deal would be worked out for Smith.

Smith made $1.35 million in the third year of a four-year contract last season, making him the lowest paid head coach in the NFL. He is scheduled to make $1.45 million this season after taking the Bears to the Super Bowl for the first time in 21 years.

"We're not close, we're not encouraged and based on where talks have gone recently, Lovie will be a free agent after next season," Bauer said. "It would take an unforeseen breakthrough for this to get done. And we are being more than reasonable in the market."

Smith, who will speak to reporters Friday in Indianapolis, said Monday he wanted to be the coach of the Bears forever and was confident a deal would get done. Those comments came during a conference call to discuss his decision not to bring back Ron Rivera as defensive coordinator.

It has been a tumultuous offseason already for the Bears, just more than two weeks since the Indianapolis Colts beat them 29-17 in the Super Bowl at Miami.

Rivera's departure was the biggest move in a coaching staff shakeup and he was replaced by Bob Babich, the team's former linebackers coach. Earlier, the Bears announced that defensive line coach Don Johnson and assistant offensive line coach Harold Goodwin wouldn't return.

Angelo, who could also be in line for an extension of his own, said there had been no final offer to Smith. But Mike Holmgren, who took Seattle to the Super Bowl after the 2005 season, got a new deal worth approximately $8 million.

"I know this, we are still negotiating," Angelo said.

"There is no line in the sand, take it or leave it or anything like that. That's not being said from our point of view. We'll just keep moving on."

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