Dave Wannstedt walked briskly down the hall toward Ted Phillips’ office and poked his head inside.
He figured he’d at least be one of the first to know if the Chicago Bears had completed their anticipated trade for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Rick Mirer. But with one report already circulating in media circles that it was “a done deal,” even the coach wondered if he had missed something.
He hadn’t. “I haven’t even had a conversation with (agent) Marvin Demoff today,” said Phillips, Bears vice president of operations. “I hope the rumor comes true soon, but it isn’t today.”
As of Thursday night, the Bears were still waiting for a return call from Mirer’s agent, and hoping that one call could close the deal. But other sources indicated the sides were still negotiating over how much, if any, of the contract would be guaranteed.
“If they want to do a deal, we can do it,” Phillips said.
The Bears are expected to trade their first-round draft choice (the 11th pick overall) for Mirer and renegotiate his contract, which has one year remaining. The Bears would like his new contract to reflect a solid commitment and prefer a longer deal, up to five years. Demoff is pushing for three years so Mirer can take advantage of anticipated increase in the salary cap beginning in 1998.
Latest indications had a new deal in the neighborhood of $10.3 million for three years.
“If we don’t make any progress (Friday, the day trading can begin), your first inkling is that there are more things involved than what we know,” Wannstedt said.
The Bears still fear another team undercutting them, namely San Francisco. The 49ers are at some disadvantage with only the 26th overall pick in the draft to offer, compared with the Bears’ 11th pick. But a trade for Mirer is still possible in which San Francisco would allow him to play out his contract for one year behind Steve Young, and then hope to sign him after that - a move that would be favorable to Mirer, who would then become an unrestricted free agent.
As negotiations drag on, even Wannstedt was sent scurrying for updates Thursday. Late in the afternoon, many radio stations across the country misinterpreted a promo of an upcoming television show in which a national football writer was to predict that the trade will go through.
Wannstedt chuckled. But clearly he is as eager as everyone else.
“We’re still optimistic it’s going to happen in the next couple of days,” said Wannstedt.
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