In an effort to dissect the salary cap decisions Ryan 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 Chicago Bears should keep, one player the Bears should cut, one player they should extend, and a player they should renegotiate.
We’ve already hit on the first three in our series, and in case you missed any of those just click the links below.
To help us out with this roundtable series, 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 here’s what Brad had to say about this last topic.
Player the Bears should be renegotiate...
Ryan Pace and Co. have shown a willingness in recent years to tack on void years to the end of players’ contracts in order to decrease present year cap hits as much as possible (Charles Leno for example).
Akiem Hicks has a $10.2M base salary for 2020 and only $1.5M in bonus proration. His deal expires after 2021, but the Bears could tack on a few void years to the end of his deal and then restructure his base salary into a signing bonus. They could create considerable cap room, but only if a new CBA is ratified that removes the 30% rule. The 30% rule is a provision of the 2011 CBA for the 2020 Final League Year that will limit the amount of room the Bears can create.
If/when a new CBA is ratified, expect the Bears to clear cap space through a few restructures and extensions.
The Bears have recently reworked the contracts from Khalil Mack, Charles Leno Jr., and Kyle Fuller, so there’s really not many other big deals that they could do anything with. I agree with most of my colleagues below about Leonard Floyd, but I really like the idea about re-doing Hicks’ deal. His guaranteed money is just about up, so another year on the contract plus some more more guaranteed could free up some space.
Now let’s check in on what a few of our WCG staffers had to say about the player whose contract they want to see renegotiated.
Robert Schmitz - There’s no doubt in my mind that Leonard Floyd is a good football player that plays the run well and is surprisingly good in coverage, but I have major philosophical qualms paying “Mack’s partner” almost 15 million dollars when I know it’s not going to amount to more than 5 sacks across the year. Considering how expensive Mack is ($26M next year), the most I feel the Bears can offer Floyd is about $8-$9M per year for 3-4 years. If he’ll take that deal, I’m happy to extend him. If not, the Bears ought to make a final decision on their former 1st round pick after the Scouting Combine in a few weeks.
Sam Householder - Floyd is a solid starter, maybe not living up to his draft position due to his lack of pass rush, but he’s still a good player and ahead of replacement level. His camp should know that he’s not a $13 million player and should be willing to work out a three year extension that gives him some peace of mind and security but also spreads out that large 2020 cap hit.
Jeff Berckes - I’ll list Floyd here but I actually think it can’t be done. What does Floyd (or his agent) think he’s worth on the open market? If I asked you to list the best players on the Bears defense, you’re almost certainly going to name at least four (Mack, Hicks, Jackson, Fuller) if not six players (Roquan, Goldman) before you get to Floyd. Can the Bears afford to keep their seventh-best defensive player for a big contract extension? No. So it has to be a super team-friendly deal or they need to bite the bullet in 2020 and let him walk in 2021. If I’m Floyd, I’m trying to play on the fifth-year option and then hit the open market in 2021. That gives the Bears this year and next to find his replacement.
Ken Mitchell - Reduce Floyd’s cap hit and pay him for what he is, an excellent coverage/run stopping OLB. What he’s set to make, $13M, is pass rusher money and while Floyd is excellent at a lot of things, pass rushing isn’t one of them.
Erik Duerrwaechter - Bobby Massie did not perform too well in 2019, and his luck with injuries finally turned sour. However, he’s still not the worst lineman on the field, and physically he’ll fit Coach Castillo’s preferences as an offensive tackle. I won’t dare ask anyone on defense to take less money in 2020; they deserved every penny for keeping the Bears at .500 last season.
Jacob Infante - The Bears are in desperate need of cap space this season, so they could look to restructure the contract of a player like Akiem Hicks, who counts for $11.8 million against the cap. Converting part of his salary into a signing bonus would save some money for the 2020 offseason, and considering his contract expires at the end of the 2021 season, the long-run ramifications of adding more bonus cash to the remaining years on his contract wouldn’t be harsh.
What do you guys think the Bears could do to create some more cap space?