With a new head coach at the helm, and 11th in cap space heading into the 2022 off-season, the Chicago Bears don't have much financial worries, however not having a 1st Round selection is not an ideal situation for Matt Eberflus. What can the newly appointed coach do to turn the Bears back into the Monsters of the Midway?
2021 Record: 6-11
GM: Ryan Poles
HC: Matt Eberflus
OC: Luke Getsy
DC: Alan Williams
2021 Statistical Leaders
Justin Fields: 159-270 58.9% 1,870 7-10
David Montgomery: 225-849-7, 42-301-0
Darnell Mooney: 81-1055-4
Cole Kmet: 60-612-0
Jimmy Graham: 14-167-3
Roquan Smith: 163 Tak, 1 Int, 3.0 Sak, 1 TD
Deon Bush: 40 Tak, 2 Int, 5 PD
Robert Quinn: 49 Tak, 18.5 Sak
Notable Free Agents:
Pos, Name, Age, Contract Status, 2021 Snap Count
LB - Alec Ogletree (31), UFA, 65.9%
RG - James Daniels (25), UFA, 100%
LT - Jason Peters (40), UFA, 76%
WR - Allen Robinson (29), UFA, 55%
S - Deon Bush (29), UFA, 35.6%
(5) Projected Cost of Rookie Picks in 2022: $1.6m
Round 2 #39
Round 3 #71
Round 5 #148
Round 5 #150
Round 6 #185
Chicago was awarded no Compensatory Picks in 2022, however with the class of free agents going out the door, that could change in 2023.
Coming in at 11th in overall cap space, the Chicago Bears have 51 returning players under contract, so things are looking up in that respect. Unfortunately, the team is carrying some dead weight with 5 players counting towards 2022 cap numbers that had the final year of their contracts written to void, meaning while the team has to account for some money against the cap this year, those players are free agents (Damien Williams, Andy Dalton, Jesse James, Jimmy Graham, and Germain Ifedi), accounting for $12.02m. This is clearly far from ideal, especially considering these were aging players anyway on a team that just traded up for a young QB that they refused to start until absolutely necessary. No matter how you slice it, while the team has some salary cap space, they are losing half of their offensive line unless they can start resigning some players and have many needs above that.
It is terrifying to think that in front of a young QB, which they traded away their 2022 1st round pick to acquire via the 2021 draft, is an offensive line either entering a contract year or on the verge of retiring.
C Sam Mustipher is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA), RG James Daniels is a UFA, Jason Peters will be 41 and a UFA, Germain Ifedi has a void in his contract and is now a UFA. All this translates to the only guaranteed returning offensive linemen who played any significant snaps (excluding Mustipher) are Tackle Larry Borom and Guard Cody Whitehair.
As far as restructuring contracts, a 31 year old Khalil Mack having a $30.15m salary cap number SHOULD be on the forefront of items you’d like to handle. His deal has a $5.5m roster bonus due each of the next 3 years and while the deal has 4 seasons remaining (the final being a voided year), you have some room to push things. Unfortunately, you really can’t do much with his contract in 2022. If traded, Mack would still carry a $27m cap hit for Chicago this season.
With no first round selection in this draft and a ton of needs, Chicago is not going to be a place players want to go for a while. The team has done well hiring offensive line coach Chris Morgan but he has a tall task in front of him. Truth is, Chicago won’t be able to trade up in this draft at all and with only 5 total sections (and only 2 of those in the top 100), it looks like dumpster diving for players will be their best option. Chicago will likely be able to roll over a lot of salary cap into 2023 when they can be a bit more competitive. Expect a bunch of 1 or 2 year free agent contracts as they look to re-establish themselves in that division. What do they need, you ask? Everything. As a team, only two players had 2 INTs and that led the squad. That’s just not good enough, especially with Mack and Quinn chasing QBs around the yard.