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Agent: Enis Has a Deal With Bears

August 17, 1998

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (AP) _ Curtis Enis, the Chicago Bears’ top draft pick, has reached a tentative three-year contract and could be in training camp as early as Tuesday, his agent said today.

Some final details on the signing bonus still were being worked out, but Greg Feste, Enis’ agent, hoped to have the deal signed tonight.

``Curtis is excited to be a Bear,″ Feste said. ``This is the best deal for Curtis.″

Neither Ted Phillips, the Bears’ vice president of operations, nor Mark Hatley, the team’s vice president of player personnel, could immediately be reached for comment.

The contract calls for Enis, the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft, to receive $5.6 million over three years, including a $3.6 million signing bonus. There also is an option for a fourth year that would require the Bears to make Enis a ``seven-digit tender,″ Feste said.

``I was not going to sign Curtis to a five-year deal that would underpay him,″ Feste said. ``This puts all the pressure on Curtis to perform, but if he performs, he’s going to maximize his value.″

The former Penn State running back switched agents shortly before training camp began July 22, and negotiations quickly deteriorated. Enis and Feste, who never had negotiated an NFL contract, wanted a deal with voidable years, which gives the player a chance to cancel years at the end of the contract if certain performance standards are met. But the Bears don’t do contracts with voidable years, and instead offered Enis several long-term deals.

When the Bears offered a three-year deal, Feste asked for a clause that would allow Enis to be made an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract. That violates the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, which prevents a player from being an unrestricted free agent until after his fourth year.

With negotiations so far apart, Enis threatened to sit out the season and go through the draft again next year. But Feste said he advised against that, and decided to talk with Phillips one more time Sunday night.

``I said to Ted, ‘Let’s bury the hatchet, let’s get over the personal thing,’ ″ Feste said. ``We picked up the ball and got it done.″

There are less than three weeks before Chicago’s first regular-season game, Sept. 6 against Jacksonville, but Feste said Enis would be ready to play.

``I think the Bears are going to be surprised at the shape Curtis is in,″ Feste said. ``Obviously, the coaches have to make their decisions, but Curtis thinks he’ll be ready to go.″

Meanwhile, a Dallas grand jury was scheduled to meet today to review a sexual assault complaint filed May 30 against Enis by an Irving, Texas, woman.

Enis left Penn State a year early and turned pro after accepting more than $1,000 worth of clothing from a sports agent, a violation of NCAA rules.

He initially lied, saying a girlfriend bought him the clothes, which he wore to an awards banquet. But he later admitted that Jeff Nalley, a Houston-based agent, paid for the clothing.

Enis, Penn State’s leading rusher last season, was suspended for the Citrus Bowl, which the Nittany Lions lost to Florida. He announced he was turning pro shortly afterward.

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