As reported by Brian McIntyre,
This was, if you recall, negotiated into the contract announced on January 2nd as something the Bears could do at any point in order to create additional salary cap space.
If you're wondering how that works in terms of his future salary cap hit, Adam L. Jahns explains:
Jay Cutler’s new $5 million signing bonus is prorated over the first five years of his seven year deal.— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) March 24, 2014
...meaning his cap hit for this year is reduced to $18.5M and those for 2015-2018 are now $16.5M (2015), $17M (2016), $16M (2017) and $17M (2018). Should he not pan out and the Bears release him after the first three years of his contract, he'll only count $2M in dead money.
Dan Durkin adds that:
What the Bears do with this extra money remains to be seen. The rookie class will cost roughly $5 million. They currently have an estimated $11.7 million in free space, so the rookie class was covered prior to Cutler’s restructure.
What, indeed? We'll keep you posted here on WCG.
Update: Brad Biggs doesn't think the move is significant:
Emery wouldn’t go creating cap space last week for a deal that wasn’t imminent ... Therefore, it is likely the cap maneuver was done to create space the Bears view as necessary for normal roster building and maintenance throughout the 2014 season.
(Force of habit: article pic in hi-res,)