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After trading Khalil Mack, the Bears’ salary cap sets up well for 2023

Within a year, it’ll be put up or shut up time at Halas Hall.

Chicago Bears v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

A bold move like trading Khalil Mack is always sure to inspire controversy. Some might think the returning trade package is too meager. Some might be caught in their feelings, upset at losing a beloved player to another team. Some, understandably, might be wary of another rebuild or retool (honestly, those are the same things, c’mon).

But what isn’t debatable is the financial flexibility that trading someone like Mack gives you. It’s almost certainly what GM Ryan Poles had in mind when offloading the 31-year-old pass rusher.

Now, let’s be precise.

$123 million is the sort of bountiful cap space for a team with no significant stars. That’s bad. It means the Bears are a terrible team with little to look forward to about the future. Very bad!

On the other hand, $123 million is also the sort of bountiful cap space that a new GM should want to possess. That’s good. That’s the limited financial commitments any person fresh on the job should want because it lets them build their team largely as they see fit. Very good!

If you’re smart, prudent, and have a quarterback, building a winner in the NFL doesn't take long. If Justin Fields becomes a star between now and 2023, then the Bears have all the flexibility in the world to construct a long-term league fixture.

If not, well, at least they had the cap space or something. It’s no skin off my nose. All I ask is you don’t tell me the “cupboard was bare!” as an excuse in Year 3. Hopefully, based on what’s to come next March, Ryan Poles has grander ambitions for the Bears.