Bears fans need to get accustomed to the fact that we are now on offensive minded team and the bulk of our money will be spent on that side of the ball. With Cutty, Marshall, forte, bushrod, and the eventual reups of Jeffery and long we will be heavily on the offensive side of the cap. Of course we need to fix the D, the only way to do this is to find value FAs and build through draft. As Bears fans we need to accept that the team needs to fill a decent defense and not a great top 10 defense we are accustomed to. We have the offense to win it all with a decent D. A couple of solid Defensive drafts could put us back in the top 10 defensive picture but that requires us hitting on third, fourth, and even fifth round draft picks, not as easy as it sounds.
I see a lot of talk about signing Michael Bennet, MIchael Johnson, Jarius Byrd, TJ ward; we can't afford them with our current cap situation and would not be able to afford them going forward. Do you want a player like Bennet for the 8-10M he will command or do you want to be able to resign Marshall after the upcoming year not to mention Jeffery the year after. Emery has his work cut out for him to fix this D. He has to find VALUE defensive FA and nail a defensive minded draft.
The cap numbers I could come up with after the most recent resigining of Ratliff leaves us with around 7M in cap space. So here is where the plan begins. Bears need to pass on resigning melton, think of Tommy Harris, and they need to cut Peppers (hurts me to say it), Bush, Earl Bennet, and Weems. This gives the team and additional 15.2M in cap space for a total of 22M to work with this offseason with a lot of holes to fill. No we should not get excited by this amount because we have tons of holes to fill for defensive starters not to mention depth. I personally don't think we should be looking at anybody that approaches over 5 to 6M a year in FA.
However, with the offensive position we are in, key players signed for several years, we are in position to win now in the next couple of years if we can get to an avg. level on the defensive side. Since we are in this position, we need to strike now. Which is why I believe the bears will also restructure some of the new contracts (cutler, jennings, slauson, gould) to add more cap space. I think adding 8M through restructures to get us to 30M to spend this offseason is the magic number without sacrificing our future. Out of those players, I would hope we go easy on restructuring Jay's contract too much because we made the deal to pay heavy in the first three years so we have an out if he never materializes into the franchise guy we thought he could be. Any money we push out in Jay's contract would potentially put us in a position of having dead money to deal with if we indeed need to cut bait. I would suggest restructuring about 4 from Jay's contract and additional four out of the other three players. So here we go: We have 30M to spend to fill out our roster with lots of holes.
FA ( I will try to list two options as FA is a competition, first guy listed is my preference)
DE: Sign Tuck or Houston - I will assign 5M/yr
Resign Wooten - 2.5M
DT: Resign Collins as depth at 3 tech - 1M
MLB: Sign Brandon Spikes or resign DJ Williams - 2M
CB: Resign Tillman - 4M
S: Sign Malcolm Jenkins or Mike Mitchell - 3M
Spent 17.5M out of 30M
Draft Prospects: 5.5M
Additional Depth: Backup QB, Punter, Depth WR, Depth DT, Depth S, Depth DE (7M)
*we have potential through restructure to get up to 35M total space if need for depth, I would like to keep at 30M
So we have spent our 30M!
1. DT Donald: fills melton spot at good price and looks like a beast
2. S Ward/Buchanon: This is our other starting safety, ward might be gone but both can step in day one
3. CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste/Mcgill/Desir: Go with the big corner trend and eventual replacement of tillman
4. DE or DT: Kareem Martin/Justin Ellis
5. DE Aaron lynch
6. C - Grab a potential replacement for Garza
Focusing on fixing the defense this is what our starting D would look like:
DE: Bass, Washington, Rookie
DT: Paea, Collins, Rookie or FA
LB: Greene, Bostic or mcclellin, FA
CB: Hayden, Frye
S: Conte, Rookie or FA
I think this gives us a competitive defense, not elite, but could put us in a position to win. Thoughts?