With running back Curtis Enis and the Chicago Bears at loggerheads over a new contract, a war of words has broken out between the sides.
Enis' agent, Greg Feste, is blaming Bears vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley and the team's lack of vision for the impasse.
"We're willing to structure a contract to meet Curtis' long-term objectives, which would greatly benefit the Bears if he did," Feste said.
The major obstacle is voidable years. Enis wants the flexibility to buy back years from the end of his contract if he reaches certain incentives earlier in his career.
The Bears are against voidable years.
"Voidables aren't something we believe in," Hatley said. "Our stance is we don't mind stepping up to the plate on up-front money. In return, they have to give something back. If we're going to step up and pay the guy, he ought to be with us for six years or so."
According to Bears negotiator Ted Phillips, only three of the last 13 running backs drafted in the first round have contracts with voidable years.
Feste remains firm on that issue. He says Enis will sit out the season and go back into next year's draft if the Bears don't compensate him for being a franchise running back.
"It's the only solution you have if you can't come to an agreement," Feste said. "Until we get through door No. 1, we can't go through door No. 2."
Feste said Hatley's personal feelings about Enis' switch in agents have stalled negotiations. Enis fired Vann McElroy, a Hatley friend, and hired Feste three weeks ago.
"It would be best for them to let me go one-on-one with Ted, and for Mark to keep his personal feelings out of the negotiations," Feste said.
Hatley said he simply wants his first-round draft choice in training camp.
"I don't really care who gets this thing done," he said. "In my opinio, the urgency's not there from his side that it is from our side."
Feste is also upset with the Bears for playing up his inexperience with NFL contracts. Primarily a financial planner, Feste handles endorsement deals for several NFL players, including Jacksonville quarterback Mark Brunell and tackle Tony Boselli.
A sexual assault complaint filed May 30 against Enis by an Irving, Texas, woman further complicates negotiations. A Dallas County grand jury will review the complaint Aug. 17 and decide whether to charge Enis.
Meanwhile, the Bears had former Ravens running back Bam Morris in for a tryout Tuesday. They are looking to add another tailback to go with Edgar Bennett, who signed on as a free agent.
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