When the Bears re-signed Bobby Massie to an extension earlier this winter, we figured it’d come at quite the cost, and, well, it did – keeping the offensive line in front of Mitch Trubisky has serious value and the Bears paid handsomely for that. But as it turns out, the cost of doing business might not be as prohibitive as we once thought.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports Massie’s deal is a five-year pact with a maximum value of $40 million. HOWEVA, upon further inspection, the deal actually works out to a two-year contract worth $15.8 million that has three option years tacked on after the 2020 season. Essentially, the Bears have done some crafty book-keeping and created a contract structure that rewards their player for a fine job on the right side of the offensive line, while still helping the team’s tight cap situation now and providing some flexibility in the future.
The first year of the deal is quite appealing to the Bears because of the $2.4 million base salary and $3.8 million cap hit, but it also hands Massie a signing bonus worth $6.5 million and workout bonus that pays out $100,000 and are both fully guaranteed. Year 2 of the deal is also relatively team friendly. It includes a base salary of $6.9 million and a cap hit of $8.3 million. It’s a nice front end of the deal from both the player and team perspective.
But it’s the back end of the contract that has perks for both sides. Chicago can move on from the deal after its first two years, starting with the 2021 NFL season. Years 3-5 (2021, 2022, 2023) are option years for the team.
So if the Bears need to clear cap space or are not satisfied with Massie’s production, they will be in a place to move on from the contract without incurring a major penalty. But if Massie plays at a high level, he’ll be rewarded with base salaries of $7.9 million in 2021 and 2022 and $8 million in 2023. Basically, if the Bears want to keep Massie, they’ll do so while paying a premium. That’s good for the player. But should they choose to move on, they’ll do so without incurring a major cap hit. That’s good for the team. It’s a win-win.
The Bears were projected to have approximately $10 million in cap space entering the 2019 season, though that number will drop to the $6 million range with Massie’s deal on the books. But it’s not like that’s the end of the road. Chicago could create cap space by releasing players and restructuring some of the team’s larger deals. To be clear, it still wouldn’t be enough to go on the sort of free agent spending spree Ryan Pace did last offseason, but that’s not all that necessary given the key players already under contract.
Save for a tweak here or there, GM Ryan Pace’s most important move will be to upgrade the kicking position.
Bringing back Massie was an important first step in the 2019 offseason, and doing so at a reasonable price could help ease some of the pressure from the team’s cap situation. There are still moves to come, so stay tuned. But for now, know that the Bears’ offseason is just getting started – so far, so good.