(WSCR) Optimistic reports about the NFL Lockout have started to come in with more frequency over the previous few days, leading most to believe that a deal will be reached soon. Once that deal is reached, the Bears will have another big negotiation.

Once free agency opens up, the Bears will have little time to sign the free agent Olin Kreutz to a new contract before training camp begins.

“They’ve got to get Olin Kreutz done,” Hub Arkush, of Pro Football Weekly and 670 The Score, said on the Danny Mac Show. “I mean, not bringing Olin back would be the biggest mistake they’ve ever made.”

Last time Kreutz signed a contract with the Bears he turned down more money from the Miami Dolphins to stay in Chicago. Although it’s hard to imagine a the Bears without Kreutz, who’s been an offensive mainstay since the 1999 season, there was some concern that a deal might not get done.

LISTEN: Hub Arkush On The Danny Mac Show

For the rest of this interview and other 670 The Score interviews click here.

“It depends on whether Olin wants it to be done or not,” Arkush said. “I mean, he could say, ‘I want a three-year deal at starter [level] money.’ And they could say, ‘You’re nuts.'”

At this point in his career, it’s clear that Kreutz’s best days are in the past. He’s made 183 starts in the 13 years with for the Bears. His value to Chicago is far greater than it would be for any other team.

“As a center, he is still a better than average center,” Arkush said. “As a Chicago Bear, he’s the leader of that football team, and he is desperately needed in that locker room. And as one of the worst offensive lines in football, he’s about the only thing, in addition of Mike Tice, that makes it workable.

“That’s what makes it an interesting negotiation: He’s got a lot more value to the Chicago Bears than anybody else. I think they’ll get it done. Because I think Olin wants to get it done and I think the Bears understand that.”

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