The Chicago Bears offseason is upon us and because of that, it’s time to let the imagination fly. Even so, this is a team that is currently tight against the cap and will still have more movement before they can spend with any sort of impact, if that is indeed the plan.
There’s plenty that can happen in an offseason, so I’m going to do my best to project a combination of what I think general manager Ryan Pace would do and what I would do as well.
Without further ado, let’s jump into this head first.
Current Cap Space: $18.146 million
This includes every currently announced cut and I also projected Cody Parkey’s cut in here as well, since there will be no additional cap penalties in 2019 because of the June 1st designation. This also includes the $2.5 million cap credit from Mike Glennon’s 2018 offset language.
Cap Savers: (+$12.751 million)
- Restructure Khalil Mack. (+$8.396 million)
By converting Mack’s $11.3 million base salary into a signing bonus, it would allow the Bears to save a maximum of $8.3 million. That would include a sixth year minimum salary and spreading the remaining dead cap over a five-year period, which would start this year.
- Extend Chase Daniel (+$2.33 million)
By giving Daniel a two year extension (two years, $8 million), the team could also turn around and convert his $4 million base salary into a signing bonus. After a minimum salary benefit and the proration of the bonus, it would allow them to save around $2.33 million in 2019.
- Trade Jordan Howard (+$1.535 million after rule of 51)
This is a move the Bears should only make after finding his replacement(s). I’m projecting that the Bears will trade Howard and a 2020 sixth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for their fourth round comp pick (#132). This saves money and makes the most sense for both sides if Pace feels comfortable with the return.
Notes: Converting Mack’s base salary into a bonus is somewhat of a risk, but even an extra $2 million in dead space over the next five years isn’t going to cripple them, especially when the cap has continued to rise by $10-$12 million each year.
Total Cap Space: $30.38 million
Internal Free Agents (8)
2019 MOCK FREE AGENCY
- CB Bryce Callahan (Four years, $26 million with $12 million guaranteed) $4.75 million hit
(Comp: Bobby McCain)
- WR Josh Bellamy (Two years, $3.5 million with $1.1M guaranteed) $1.5 million hit
(Comp: Sherrick McManis)
- G Bryan Witzmann (Two years, $3 million with $600,000 guaranteed) $1.25 million hit
(Comp: Eric Kush)
- LS Patrick Scales (Three years, $3.5 million with $1.25M guaranteed) $1 million hit
(Comp: Mike Windt)
- TE Ben Braunecker (One year, $900,00 with $150,000 guaranteed) $900,000 hit
(Comp: Daniel Brown)
- S DeAndre Houston-Carson (One year, $700,000) $700,000 hit
- DL Roy Robertson-Harris (one year, $650,000 (ERFA) $650,000 hit
- RT Rashaad Coward (one year, $650,000) (ERFA) $650,000 hit
Notes: This is going to be an interesting group to follow. It’s quite possible that the Bears could end up retaining both Adrian Amos and Callahan after hitting the market, especially with how packed both markets are at their respective positions. The Bears have been vocal about wanting to retain both, and judging by the lack of reported buzz from both players at the combine, this seems more and more realistic. Even so, I’m still going to make this a safer projection and assume that just one of the two comes back.
Total Spent (after the rule of 51): (-$6.87 million)
Current Cap Space: $23.567 million
Primary Outside Free Agents (6)
- OLB Terrell Suggs (Two years, $12 million with $5.5 million guaranteed) $5.5 million hit
(Comp: Cam Wake)
- RB T.J. Yeldon (Three years, $12 million with $6 million guaranteed) $3 million hit
(Comp: Isaiah Crowell)
- DB Brian Poole (Three years, $10.5 million with $4 million guaranteed) $2.5 million hit (Comp: Terrance Mitchell)
- CB P.J. Williams (One year, $1.5 million with $500,000 guaranteed) $1.5 million hit
(Comp: Marcus Cooper)
- K Kai Forbath (One year, $1 million with $200K guaranteed) $1 million hit
- WR De’Anthony Thomas (One year, $900,000 $150,000 guaranteed) $900,000 million hit
Notes: This isn’t going to be some extravagant offseason for the team like in previous years. They don’t have the resources to go out and sign multiple contracts in the $8-$10 million range, but that’s alright. Their holes will be minimal and the focus should be more about finding missing pieces in the short-term that can help push them team closer to a Super Bowl. It’s possible the Bears could do better at safety than Poole, but I have a feeling Pagano will want versatility, which the former Falcon brings. There’s also “better” options than Yeldon at running back, but stylistically, he fits like a glove. Maybe they’ll shell out $7 million per year for someone like Tevin Coleman, but I’ll keep my projection more conservative for the time being.
Total Spent (After rule of 51): (-$10.98 million)
Current Cap Space: $12.587 million
Extensions: (-$3 million)
- OC Cody Whitehair (Four years, $38 million with $21 million guaranteed) $3 million in 2019 (Comp: Ryan Jensen)
Notes: At this point, a Whitehair extension has not only been widely speculation by names like Adam Jahns and Biggs, but it seems like a foregone conclusion this summer. It’s a no-brainer and speaks to Pace’s ability to land talent out of the first round.
Current Cap Space: $9.587 million
Draft Class (-$2.5 million)
2019 MOCK DRAFT
3rd (#87): RB Miles Sanders (Penn St)
This is a running back class that simply didn’t test very well as a whole, but even so, there’s not a lot of first round talent, if any in this class. This should be a good thing for the Bears. Sanders is someone who didn’t originally pop to me on film, but the more and more I watched him, the more attractive he was. He’s a one-year starter with minimal miles. He doesn’t have a ton of long speed and may dance too much behind the line, but he has all the physical makings of a primary back in Nagy’s offense.
4th (#126): DB Amani Hooker (Iowa)
Much like the Poole signing, I expect the Bears to look for versatile options in the defensive backfield. Hooker can play in the nickel, either boundary spot or at strong safety. He’s someone that was used in multiple ways at Iowa and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to trust a good friend of mine who covers that team. He raves about Hooker and it’s easy to see why. Could be a plug and play starter from day one, but the Bears won’t need him to be.
4th (#132): TE Foster Moreau (LSU) Projected Trade with Buffalo
I’ve kicked a few different tight ends around at this pick. My other choice would have been Texas A&M product Jace Sternberger, but I find it hard to believe he’ll be sitting there in the late fourth, so enter Moreau. He’s not a crazy athletic kid, but he’s big, has steady hands and is an outstanding blocker. The Bears have invested heavy at the position, but this may be a needed addition.
5th (#162): WR Penny Hart (Georgia St)
Depending on who you talk to, receiver is either a bigger need than meets the eye or receiver is not a worry at all. I’m more in the middle. I don’t think they need to go out and spent big money or use a high pick, but finding Taylor Gabriel’s eventual replacement in the fifth-round wouldn’t be bad. Hart is smaller, but he’s very quick and could be used perfectly in Nagy’s offense.
7th (#222): K Matt Gay (Utah)
The Bears are likely to draft a kicker, seeing as how they have a pair of seventh round picks. Right now, the two kickers on the roster are Redford Jones and Chris Blewitt. Neither have NFL experience. Enter Gay, who has one hell of a leg.
7th (#238): OG Alex Bars (Notre Dame)
This pick is all about value and development. Kyle Long restructured his deal to help the team for a year, but has over a $9 million cap hit in 2020. Bars has experience with Harry Hiestand and could be a nice developmental pick or depth at worst.
Total Remaining Cap Space: $7.087 million
Offensive Depth Chart
Defensive Depth Chart
Special Teams Depth Chart