No one knew the Bears were negotiating with defensive end Jared Allen. And that’s exactly how the Bears wanted it.
They managed to keep it completely quiet until the deal was done. Then, for good measure, the Bears kept it under wraps until it was too late for G.M. Phil Emery or coach Marc Trestman to be asked anything about the acquisition before they bolted from Orlando on the final day of the league meetings.
During the press conference that streamed over ChicagoBears.com, Emery boasted about the measures taken to keep it all quiet last week in Florida, which included dodging a national reporter (it wasn’t me) who nearly witnessed a meeting between team representatives and agent Ken Harris.
“We knew to have it remain silent,” Emery said, via John Mullin of CSN Chicago, “we couldn’t have anybody see us meet or shake hands, so we met at night away from the hotel. But Ken had come to meet us and we were standing out facing the parking lot and [the reporter] walked to [Bears contract negotiator] Cliff Stein and shook his hand. . . .
“I grabbed Ken [Harris]. I pulled him around and put him behind a post. And then [the reporter] walked off. . . . No one saw Ken and we did that off campus.”
It’s unclear why the Bears insisted on secrecy, or why Harris agreed to go along with it. The only plausible explanation is that the Bears were offering much more than anyone else, and that the Bears didn’t want to wake up a team like the Seahawks, prompting them to increase their own position. To get Harris to play ball, the Bears presumably made the Patriots-style threat/promise that if word of the talks leaks, the talks immediately would end.
Still, it wasn’t necessary to continue the ruse until after Trestman had fulfilled his media obligation at the NFC coaches’ breakfast. That was an optional move by the Bears, aimed at steering traffic to their own media properties.
Right or wrong, it worked.