Sometimes free agency is more about how your team spends and less about how much gets spent.
And by the looks of the contract Germain Ifedi signed with the Chicago Bears as a free agent, the team appears to be getting a tremendous bargain.
Check out the particulars from ESPN NFL analyst Field Yates:
Germain Ifedi’s one-year deal with the Bears if for the veteran salary benefit: $137,500 to sign, a $910,000 base salary with a cap number of $887,500. A wise value add for the Bears for a 25-year old that has started 60 games already.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 4, 2020
On the surface, to get an offensive lineman entering with 60 games of starting experience entering his age 26 season for less than $1 million is a tremendous value. And when I started to dig into it more, I came to realize how much of a value this deal turned out to be.
Back in January, Sirius XM NFL analyst Geoff Schwartz told Joe Fans of NBC Northwest that he believed Ifedi was in a position to cash in on a deal that would have paid him more than $12 million per year in free agency. The reasoning: because that’s what teams desperate for tackle help tend to do when the free agent market opens. Unfortunately for Ifedi, that market never developed. And neither did one in which Schwartz imagined that Ifedi could be signed in the $6-7 million range, which was believed to be reasonable. Ultimately, it left the Bears in a place to scoop up a player for a fraction of what he was expected to get. Pretty thrifty if you ask me.
Ifedi’s deal falls in line with several of the contracts Chicago’s front office has put together after the first wave of free agency’s big splash. We credited GM Ryan Pace for these slick maneuvers, for which he deserves praise. Because while these are not sexy, needle-moving transactions, these stealth moves to build the depth should not be overlooked.
In signing Ifedi, the Bears signed a player with extensive signing experience without committing a ton of cap space. That is good, because Chicago doesn’t have much to work with as it stands (Brad from Over The Cap estimates the team has about $8.75 million in available space once the Nick Foles deal shakes out). The move also keeps an avenue open for the Bears to possibly sign an offensive lineman at some point down the line this summer, like they did with Josh Sitton when he was cut during the 2016 preseason. And because the Bears didn’t financially commit to Ifedi as a starter, there remains a possibility the Bears draft a prospect who can come in and win a starting job in camp. All things considered, this is frugal work from Chicago’s front office knowing the financial limitations at hand.
And to think, there was some surprise on my end that the Bears didn’t use chunks of their available cap space to bolster their offensive line. But instead of diving into the deep end of the spending pool, it appears the team valued flexibility (both financially and from a roster-building standpoint) and could have unearthed a spectacular value in the process.