Rookies and quarterbacks will begin reporting to Chicago Bears training camp at Halas Hall on Saturday. But second-round pick Jaquan Brisker doesn’t appear to be among the first to arrive as he waits to sign his rookie deal.
Barring significant developments in the coming days, according to sources, Brisker’s retention could extend beyond next week’s full team reporting date and has the potential to last into August.
Drafted 48th overall in April, Brisker is in line to start in Week 1, projected to join Eddie Jackson as the team’s first-unit safeties. But Brisker’s early growth and emergence could be delayed if he can’t start practicing because of his current contract dispute. (The Bears’ first full-team practice of camp is scheduled for Wednesday morning at Lake Forest.)
One of the main issues in contract negotiations is believed to center around the amount of guaranteed money the team is willing to offer for the third year of Brisker’s four-year deal.
General manager Ryan Poles, with the help of director of football administration Matt Feinstein and senior vice president and general counsel Cliff Stein, has signed 10 of the team’s 11 draft picks thus far. But the contract matchup with Brisker could create unwanted tension and increase administrative responsibilities for the Poles as the Bears enter camp for the first time under his watch.
The lengthy negotiations also present another challenge for a first-time general manager looking to gain credibility while taking charge of an organization that hasn’t established itself as a consistent championship contender in decades.
In the big picture for both security and organization, the contract dispute appears to be a minor blip. But four years ago, first-round pick Roquan Smith’s resistance from camp wasn’t thought to be much of a problem in mid- to late-July. However, the linebacker missed more than four weeks of camp and 15 practices as a rookie, slowing down his appearance.
At the conclusion of minicamp in June, new Bears coach Matt Eberflus emphasized how quickly Brisker was picking up the nuances of the defense and understanding his responsibilities at the back end.
“We are so excited about his talent, his mindset and the person he is and where he is in his development so far,” Eberflus said. “He’s shown everything we needed to see to really look around the corner and see ‘Hey, where’s the potential in this guy?’ And it’s our job as coaches and players together to get him to reach his potential in his first year.”
Part of that, Eberflus said, would stem from Brisker simply gaining more experience on defense.
“There are so many things that you have to experience and go through to get the knowledge and learn and put it in your files and in your rolodex there so you can go back to it like, ‘I’ve seen that, I’ve done that before,'” Eberflus said. So we’re just trying to put him in as many experiences as we can. He’s going to fail some and he’s going to have a lot of success. But sometimes that failure teaches you a lot more than all the successes he’s going to have.”
Still, without a contract deal, Brisker won’t practice with the team in the early stages of camp and may be left to learn from afar until his four-year rookie deal is signed.