CB Nathan Vasher is the latest to forgo voluntary OTAs, joining LB Lance Briggs and RB Thomas Jones. All three players are seeking new deals.
“I’m not worried or concerned,” Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said of Vasher’s absence. “I’m disappointed more than anything. Given the situation, it's unfortunate. But these things happen. They don't just happen here, they happen around the league as well.”
Vasher led the team with eight interceptions and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2005. Even though the 2004 fourth round pick has two years remaining on his rookie deal, his agent Michael Sullivan is looking for an extension. The 24-year-old is due a base salary of $425,000 in 2006 followed by $460,000 in 2007.
“I don't necessarily like when people take their laundry to the media,” Angelo said of Sullivan. “There's a way to express your concerns, your gripes or whatever. He did to me. But he felt compelled to talk to the media and get it off his chest. So be it.”
Angelo had a meeting with Vasher on Monday to explain despite an impressive start to his career, it has been the club policy not to give a player an extension after just two years in the league.
“That's what our philosophy has been. I made him mindful of that,” Angelo said. “We certainly respect, and I can't say enough about Nate Vasher, we think he's a heck of a player and would love to have him on this football team and I don't want that message to ever get misconstrued through any of this.”
Part of the problem for Vasher is that the Bears signed Ricky Manning to a five-year $21 million free agent contract in the off-season to be the nickel back. Manning will make $9 million over the next two seasons compared to approximately $900,000 for Vasher.
Another distinction in Vasher’s camp is that he’s been a solid citizen during his time in Chicago. Manning faces an assault charge stemming from his April 23rd arrest for allegedly being part of a group that attacked a man at a Los Angeles area restaurant.
Still without Vasher in attendance, Manning is working with the first team defense.
“It feels good to run with the ones because you’re just getting that camaraderie on the field and getting the feel of the star players and the starters,” Manning said. “It feels good to be out there making plays with those guys.”
The question remains whether or not Vasher will be one of players on the field making plays when training camp starts on July 27.