There's no question the Chicago Bears are in a tricky salary cap situation. They have a few glaring needs, and the draft alone won't be able to fill all their holes. There are a few current players that could help the Bears by restructuring their deals, but would that be enough relief? The highest paid Bears player is Julius Peppers, and he's already restructured his deal once before, so another restructure would really lock them into a worse situation moving forward. There would be far too much bonus money owed to a player of his age.
If the Kansas City Chiefs can cut their starting right tackle for a salary cap savings of just $700,000, and of the Denver Broncos can entertain the thought of cutting their starting defensive end, then way can't the Bears think about releasing Peppers?
Cutting Peppers would save Chicago a hefty chunk of change, and they could always try and re-sign him to a different deal, but why would he agree to such a move? The Broncos are essentially asking Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut, or be released, and he's a younger DE than Peppers. He's not the all around football player that Peppers is, but with a cap hit of around $16 million in 2013, the Bears would like to do something. Peppers would possibly want to play for a ring at this point in his career, and he may find a better chance elsewhere.
Then the Bears have to consider what the mere presence of Pep has on fellow Pro Bowl defensive lineman, and the recently franchised Henry Melton. Would Melton have reached his level of play had Peppers not been playing down the line from him? I can't think of many instances where Melton had extra blockers wary of him.
With a restructure for Julius Peppers unlikely, and cap hits of $17 million due in 2014, and nearly $20 million due in 2015, it's safe to assume he'll be cut at some point. Which begs the question; Does it make sense for the Bears to do it now?