No, this isn't another Matt Forte piece, though if he doesn't come to a long-term deal by tomorrow afternoon, he'll factor into 2013 to the tune of a second franchise tag. That being said, John Clayton over at ESPN decided that news in 2012 is slow enough (and I can't really say that I disagree) that he wanted to look at teams that might have some rough financial straits to deal with in coming seasons. And over the next two seasons (i.e., prior to the cap bump in 2014 for the new TV deal), according to Clayton, an average of ten starters per team are set to be free agents, leading to some potentially tough decisions.
And the first team on his list are our very own Bears.
The Bears have 17 of their 22 starters with contracts set to expire in 2013 or 2014, the most of any team in the NFL, with seven of those contracts expiring in 2013. The five starters that will still be under contract? Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Brandon Marshall, Gabe Carimi and Chris Conte.
Currently, the team has about $13 million left in cap space for 2013 and another $50+ in 2014, so there's room for some priority resignings (like a new Cutler deal).
That being said, Clayton thinks they might have to break up the team come 2014 if they don't win a title, but I have to disagree. They might lose a significant piece in the process such as a declining Urlacher (pending resigning after 2012) or letting Forte walk, but moves like that would hardly be indicative of blowing up the roster.
So with that being said, what players would you be comfortable moving forward without in coming years?