We’re less than a month away from the start of the 2020 league year for the NFL, so in the coming weeks teams will try to create salary cap flexibility to give them some breathing room to be players in free agency. Not all 32 teams will be positioning themselves to make a huge splash, but tweaks here and there will need to happen from all teams. The Chicago Bears have some obvious needs on their roster, and if we’re to follow the previous moves from general manager Ryan Pace, he’s no doubt about to address those in free agency.
Just how big a splash will be predicated on the move he decides to make at quarterback, but regardless of how much salary is allocated to adding to the QB room, he’ll still need to drop some cash on the offensive line, tight end, and other depth pieces.
In an effort to dissect their salary cap decisions Pace and company have to make, a few of us at Windy City Gridiron are taking place in a roundtable discussion with our picks for one player the Bears should keep, one player the Bears should cut, one player they should extend, and a player they should renegotiate.
To help us out I’ve enlisted Over The Cap’s Brad Spielberger (Follow him on Twitter @BradOTC), who has extensive knowledge of the inner-workings of an NFL salary cap, and we’ll start with Brad to kick off this series.
The Bears should keep...
This will probably come as a surprise to those who follow me on Twitter, but Leonard Floyd is my pick here. Because of the precarious 2020 salary cap position the Bears find themselves in, many in Chicago have wondered if perhaps Floyd could have his $13.222M fifth-year option rescinded. If the Bears were to rescind the fifth-year option prior to March 18th (first day of 2020 League Year), they wouldn’t be on the hook for a penny. Additionally, Floyd would count for the Bears in the compensatory pick formula.
Nevertheless, this team cannot afford to lose Floyd at this point in time unless they have a legitimate free agent target (a 2nd round draft pick will not suffice in 2020). The only free agent 3-4 OLB that I think would be a good fit (football fit and financial fit) is former Bears 2011 UDFA Mario Addison. Addison is still highly productive at 33 years old (at least 9 sacks in each of the last 4 seasons) and could probably be had for something along the lines of: 2 years / $18M with $10M guaranteed.
I also don’t think it would be wise to extend Floyd just to avoid the big 2020 cap hit. Find a way to work around his $13.222M and make him earn his second contract. Don’t reward a player with a new deal just because you want to save cap dollars in one season.
The rest of us, including myself, went with kick returner/gunner/wide out/running back, Cordarrelle Patterson as the player we want the Bears to keep.
I honestly can’t believe how many amateur capologists have thought about cutting Patterson to save about $5 million in cap space, especially with how much he single handedly improved Chicago's third phase. Patterson, the 1st Team All Pro returner, may not get a ton of kick return opportunities, but when he does get one he’s a threat to score every time he touches the ball. When you factor in his 2nd Team All Pro status as a gunner, and his ability to play two positions on offense, you can see why, even at a 2020 cap hit of $5,750,000, Patterson is an important part of the Bears.
Now lets check in on what the rest of the WCG crew had to say.
Jeff Berckes - To all of you suggesting that Patterson is a cut candidate, I ask you to kindly leave the premises.
Jacob Infante - Sure, releasing Patterson would save roughly $4.7 million in cap space, but he was a rock star as a kick returner and as a gunner on punt coverage this year, and he offers some value as a versatile offensive weapon. The Bears would be smart to keep him around.
Erik Duerrwaechter - He may not factor in as a key role player on offense, but he certainly upgraded the entire level of play on special teams whenever he’s on the field. He might have finally found his long-term niche as a true special teams ace with an occasional role on offense. Definitely a guy you’d want to fill out your depth charts with.
Sam Householder - Patterson is an All-Pro caliber kick returner and a great gunner to boot. What he can add to the offense is fine, not amazing, but definitely the whole package makes him worth the money.
Ken Mitchell - Keep Cordarrelle Patterson; The man earned his money.
Robert Schmitz - I have both Patterson and Patrick O’Donnell in the “keep” category this offseason — surprisingly high-level ST performers that you don’t want to replace but might have to let go of if the right QB becomes available. Patterson’s play spoke for itself, but I also thought O’Donnell had a surprisingly effective season booting the rock, especially when pinning opponents inside the 20. A punter isn’t someone you want see much of, but when the Bears needed him he delivered.
Now it’s your turn, of the players that have been rumored to be cap casualties, who do you think the Bears should hold on to?