Friday, February 22, 2013
The Bears' salary cap tango
By Tim Kavanagh
The Chicago Bears have a small army of impending free agents this offseason, including four offensive linemen, rising stud DT Henry Melton and franchise icon Brian Urlacher. We've been hearing buzz that the club has no plans on letting Melton see the open market, so a tag is possible (by the March 4 deadline) if a multi-year deal isn't struck. The Urlacher situation continues to evolve, as losing him would be a big public relations blow in addition to the loss of his leadership and on-field production. But all of their retention moves will require cap space, space which is at a premium for them currently.
One way to give themselves some more leeway is to restructure the deals of some high-priced veterans, either by converting base salary to a bonus (thus prorating the 2013 cap hit over additional seasons) or extending the contracts of players entering their final season. Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune suggests three such players for such moves: DE Julius Peppers (who has a $12.9 million cap hit), CB Charles Tillman (with an $8 million cap hit) and QB Jay Cutler (with a $10.37 million cap hit).
In the case of Cutler, a new deal has been rumored for some time, but there hasn't been any reported progress. As for Tillman, extending his time with the team comes with some risk; though he played at a very high level in 2012, he's turning 32 years old this offseason. Things will start to pick up within the next several weeks.