by Paul "Closer" Wanecski
With the off season looming in distance, the Monsters of the Midway will have some green to worry about when it comes to paying for players in 2014. Check out a possible way for the Bears to bring their cap number down, before they take on the free agency period.
Pretend for a moment that you have inherited the Chicago Bears franchise. You are the C.E.O. and General Manager. You look on your desk to find a post-it note with this note scribbled on it: “20 @ 13 Mil”
Yes, you also read that correctly. With the contracts in the current state, the Bears have 33 members on the roster with only an estimated 13 Million dollars in Salary Cap space. Now, we have to refer to “estimated” because the Salary Cap numbers for 2014 have not been made official, however, looking at past trends and forecast, unless the world starts to meltdown, this figure is about as close to accurate as you will find. Now that you have acquired this franchise, with this problem, where do you start to fix it? Like many fans who follow the NFL, I will admit that when Jay Cutler signed his 7 year extension, a majority of us went “um….excuse me?”
Not only was the Cutler extension rumored to be for 7 years, the ramifications that it would have on the Chicago Bear’s Salary Cap seemed insurmountable.
Let me give it to you straight on a few things you should know about Cutler’s contract:
Yes, he is paid handsomely for the next 3 years.
Yes, his contract contains 54 Million in guaranteed money, with 22.5 million happening in 2014
No, this isn’t entirely his fault.
Step One: Restructure the Jay Cutler deal. The interesting point to note is that his deal included no signing bonus. A signing bonus is pro-rated out through the life of a contract and counted against the player’s salary for cap purposes. No signing bonus, no proration. Also important to note, Cutler’s deal includes a lot of roster bonuses in the later team-option years.
Step Two: Extend Brandon Marshall. His contract is 9.1 Million against the 2014 Cap. Even though Alshon Jeffery has proven to be a dynamic target (at a bargain basement price of 1.24 million against the 2014 cap), getting some dollars off the 2014 year is a necessity. Marshall will be looking to get paid, so you will not be seeing a contract littered with incentives and roster bonuses. If Marshall is unwilling, the Bears may look to dump some of his salary via trade that is of course, if they feel Jeffery is able to take on the top receiver spot.
Step Three: Cut Julius Peppers – His contract carries and immense amount of “Dead Money” (that is when a contract has guarantees and bonuses that are required to be paid and accounted for against the salary cap, regardless of the status of the player). This signing when it happened was a shock at the value of the deal. Now, this could be a contract the Bears have to eat. Cutting Peppers will actually free up 9.8 Million this year however, it will carry 8.36 million in dead money that the team will have to absorb at some point. This is the risk of long term, high signing bonus contracts. Just on face value alone, his “Cap Number” (the cost of the player against the salary cap) is 18,183,333, of which, over 4 million dollars is prorated from his signing bonus.
Figuring you can get the cap figures for Marshall to 7.5 million, the release of Peppers saving 9.8 million, anything you can get from a restructuring of the Cutler deal with just allow for additional space. Even these moves save you an estimated 11.4 Million against the Salary Cap.
That is how you take your 13 million dollar problem and turn it into a 24.4 Million dollar solution.