June 2 isn’t only a date to remember because it means I’ll be celebrating a birthday in less than one month (but put that in your calendar just in case). It also means that the post-June 1 cuts reported months ago become official TODAY.
And for the Chicago Bears, that means that the Tarik Cohen and Danny Trevathan cuts that came down back in March will officially clear more cap space for this offseason. It’s not as if the Bears were in rough shape from a cap perspective before the cuts. However, the little stuff adds up over time. And it ultimately brings us to a point where we can reset the team’s cap situation and clear some things up.
Post-June 1 Cuts Bring the Bears to $22M in cap space
OverTheCap.com’s Jason Fitzgerald reports the Bears are one of nine teams gaining cap space today. Fitzgerald estimates Chicago is creating an additional $8.19 million in cap space with the Trevathan and Cohen cuts. And once those transactions officially hit the books, it will bring the Bears to $22,210,674 in available cap space to use in 2022. Only the Browns ($40,965,218), Panthers ($25,063,534), Raiders ($22,529,843), and Cowboys ($22,490,088) will have more available wiggle room under the cap.
But there’s a but, and it’s a sizable one as Chicago’s football team is currently dealing with an unsightly $56,150,263 worth of dead cap hits for this season. Being north of $50 million worth of payments to players no longer on the roster is a gut punch. And it was likely a deciding factor in the Bears not being as aggressive in GM Ryan Poles’ first turn in free agency. You can tack on only so much dead money before it becomes problematic for team building. The Bears hit that point at the end of the Ryan Pace era, leaving his successor to bite down and swallow on mistakes he didn’t even make. Tough gig, to be sure. But that is a small, short-term price to pay for a clean set of books starting in 2023.
What can the Bears do with this newfound space?
I suppose it could be put toward a Roquan Smith extension. Maybe there is a free agent offensive linemen (J.C. Tretter?) who could bolster the line. Perhaps a receiver (Will Fuller V?) who would have an interest in signing a one-year “prove it” deal after watching three months of free agency fly by without a team picking them up. The Bears have options, although there might not be a better one than allowing it to roll over to next year.
Speaking of next year, this is where the fun begins…
The Bears are set to have $99,655,469 in cap space next offseason. That projects to be the most in football.
Not only has GM Ryan Poles positioned his team to have nearly $100 million in cap space, they’re the only team forecasting to have at least $90 million in space under the cap next offseason. In fact, no other team currently projects to have more than $80 million in cap spending room. Heck, OTC estimates only one team (the Seahawks) to have more than $70 million in cap space in 2023. Surely, these numbers will change between now and then. In-house extensions, potential summertime signings, and other unexpected happenings will shake things up. But not so much that it will knock the Bears off from their perch.
Admittedly, this offseason has been kin to swallowing some nasty tasting medicine from your childhood. You know you’ll feel better after you gulp it down, but it doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. It has been an offseason in which Chicago let go of some of its best, most popular, and productive players. And it has been an offseason that has seen other teams seemingly manipulate the cap, treating it as if it was a myth. However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. It is important to keep that in mind as we chug along. So while the season to come could provide a rough terrain, the clean slate that awaits could make the juice worth the squeeze. Even if it is costly now.