The Bears Have Between $15-17 Million in Salary Cap Space as a New Wave of Free Agency Opens Up

Business is about to pick up (again) in the world of NFL free agency.

Danny Heifetz of The Ringer outlines the likely possibility that the mad dash to scoop up compensatory draft picks has put a freeze on a segment of NFL free agency. Tuesday was the first day in which signings wouldn’t impact teams getting compensatory picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. And in the value-obsessed world we live in, draft picks are worth their weight in gold. Unfortunately, there is always someone at the short end of the stick when an advantage is being gained elsewhere.

In this situation, it’s second-tier free agents such as Ezekiel Ansah, Ndamukong Suh, and Eric Berry are among the players who probably otherwise would have signed elsewhere had teams not finesse the system in an attempt to gain more draft picks.

In short, here is how the system works: Compensatory picks are given to teams that lost more free agents than they added. These picks land between the end of Rounds 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, and are based on a league-created formula that considers a free agent’s earnings, playing time, and accolades. Losing more of these types of players than you gain can result in a compensatory draft pick, but a team could have said pick cancelled by signing a similar player.

The fine folks at OverTheCap.com have a more detailed explanation at their site, should you want to further explore this area of front office checkers.

Back in April, OTC’s Nick Korte estimated 20 teams could have benefited from holding out on signing free agents until after the May 7 deadline passed.

The Bears are one of those teams … and it’s not as if they don’t have money to spend. Depending on your preferred source of cap-related analysis, Chicago has $15,528,499 (Spotrac.com) or $17,682,024 (OverTheCap.com) in available cap space. Having anywhere between $15.5 million and $17.6 million in money that could be spent is a luxury that could come in handy should the team want to bulk up its pass rush, add depth to the secondary, reward a home-grown talent with an extension, or even make a move to add a veteran kicker. This isn’t small potatoes when we get to this stage of the game. To put it in perspective, the Vikings have somewhere between $871,856 (Spotrac) and $1,177,324 (OTC) in available cap space. Have fun with that!

Also at OTC, this chart that details each team’s free agency gains and losses through the lens of potential pick compensation. The Bears are well-positioned to get a pick after losing Adrian Amos to the Packers, but we have a long way to go before that becomes officially official.

So if you’re wondering why reports the Seahawks signed Ansah are important and relevant, or why they’re happening now rather than back when free agency opened, here’s your answer. The Seahawks signed a deal that helps Seattle improve its pass-rush after trading Franchise-tagged defensive end Frank Clark to the Chiefs and allows Ansah to have a soft landing spot after an injury-shortened 2018 with the Lions. But more importantly, it marks the unofficial start to a new wave of free agency.

Let the games begin … again!

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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