Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace had a number of needs to fill this offseason. But more than that, he needed to address problem spots on the roster within the confines of an ever-tightening salary cap. Those two challenges are difficult to conquer on their own, let alone at the same time.
And while Pace’s asset management has come into question this offseason, I must give him credit now that I’ve seen some of the contracts he’s handed out so far.
Check out this pair of deals Pace gave to members of the Bears’ secondary:
Artie Burns signed a Veteran Minimum Salary Benefit contract and will not count against the Bears' compensatory picks
Almost his entire base salary is fully guaranteed at signing, so it's very likely he will make the roster
— BradOTC (@BradOTC) March 27, 2020
The Bears & Deon Bush also took advantage of the new CBA rule allowing a Four-Year veteran salary benefit (all four years with Bears)
Bush is set to make $1.4M, but will cost just $1,047,500 against the cap
— BradOTC (@BradOTC) March 27, 2020
Brad Spielberger of OverTheCap.com highlights a pair of deals that highlight Pace’s prowess in finessing the cap. For example, the contract given to retain safety Deon Bush will cost just $1,047,500 against the cap, even though the deal liens the University of Miami product to make $1.4 million. Meanwhile, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets new cornerback Artie Burns and returning long-snapper also received veteran salary benefit contracts. And to further sweeten the pot, Burns’ deal won’t count against the compensatory draft pick formula. Hey, every bit helps!
And let’s not forget about the Danny Trevathan deal, which ESPN insider Dan Graziano boasts as one of the best to be given out this offseason. At face value, Trevathan’s contract is a six-year pact worth $30.75 million. But when you dig into it, the reality of the deal is that it is worth $13.625 million over three years, with a bunch of complicated stuff to follow. How so? The explanation is tricky, but there is a focus on a pair of bonus options within the contract.
Here’s a brief breakdown:
- The deal is worth a total of $13.625M from Year 1 (2020) through Year 3 (2022).
- In Year 4 (2023), the Bears can get out of the contract with no cap penalties, however …
- The deal has two option bonuses worth $3.625 million each in Year 5 (2024) and Year 6 (2025).
- The first option (for Year 5 in 2024) must be picked up by the 10th day of the 2021 league year. If it isn’t, then his 2021 salary becomes $6.625 million fully guaranteed.
- The second option (for Year 6 in 2025) must be picked up by the 10th day of the 2022 league year. If it isn’t, then his 2022 salary becomes a non-guaranteed $6.125 million.
The whole point of this is to spread the cap number over a greater number of years. By putting together option bonuses instead of signing bonuses, the Bears don’t have to account for them with regards to cap purposes until they are exercised. And finally, the 2023, 2024, and 2025 seasons on Trevathan’s contract will automatically void five days after the 2022 Super Bowl — whether or not the options are triggered. Essentially, the back-end of the deal is simply for salary cap management purposes.
Or, in other words, Trevathan gets a three-year contract that rewards him for the present. In turn, Trevathan lends a helping hand to a cap-strapped team by agreeing to this type of deal.
There are times when Pace’s decision-making makes me do the confused puppy head tilt. But there are also times in which I must tip my cap to Pace and his staff for how they handle some of these contracts. It’s good hustle, and I’m glad they’re doing it the right way. Here’s hoping they make the most of every bit of cap space they carve out from being a tad-bit creative with how they draw contracts.