August 5, 2011

C Olin Kreutz delays retirement to sign with Saints

Long-time Bears center Olin Kreutz, who started his first game in Chicago in 1998, has taken a paycut to sign with the Saints in 2011.

Kreutz, 34, 6'2, 292, and 13 years out of the University of Washington, has started 183 NFL games, tied for 15th most among active players.

Kreutz turned down a one-year, $4 million contract from Chicago recently, and also turned down a more lucrative offer from Baltimore.  Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribute reported that "Kreutz will have a chance at making a lot of it up in bonuses."

UPDATE: reports that the one-year contract is worth roughly $2 million, with a potential value of $4 million with incentives.

The Bears had already signed former Seahawk Chris Spencer to replace him, and their one-year contract offer was described as a "take it or leave it" deal.

After initially indicating that he would retire this offseason, Kreutz's agent Mark Bartelstein said that "if he gets a championship contending type team, he’s going to be really interested, and I think we’re going to get that."

Kreutz made six straight Pro Bowl appearances from 2001 to 2006.

His arrival takes considerable heat off of second-year C Matt Tennant, drafted in the fifth round last year.  Tennant has been taking starting snaps for the Saints since the start of camp, as the Saints played a waiting game with start Jonathan Goodwin that they ultimately lost.

Kreutz was drafted in the third round, 64th overall, of the 1998 draft when he left school early to declare, part of a huge UW draft class that led all schools with 10 players draft.  Also drafted from UW that year were TE Cam Cleeland, WR Jerome Pathon, FS Tony Parrish and G Benji Olson.

He joins former long-time Bears teammate DE Alex Brown on the Saints' roster.

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