When the Chicago Bears hired Ryan Pace as their general manager back in 2015, one of his first front office moves was to bring in one of his guys, Joey Laine, to serve as his director of football administration. Pace worked with Laine in New Orleans where Laine was a salary cap analyst for the Saints, and during his seven years with the Bears he managed their cap and handled all contract negotiations.
Laine and Pace brought the “void year” into Chicago sports vernacular.
When Pace was ousted earlier this year, it was natural that some of his guys would soon follow, and in February Laine was replaced by Matt Feinstein to be their new Director of Football Administration. But Feinstein’s background isn’t in contracts or the salary cap, so it seemed likely for the Bears to reshuffle their front office to get their former cap manager and chief contract negotiator, Cliff Stein, back in the role he had so much success in.
On Monday Bears’ GM Ryan Poles confirmed that Stein was back in charge of their contracts and their cap situation.
While the void year is something many teams use out of necessity, and the Bears may need to use at some point in the future, so far the Bears, and Stein, haven’t handed out any void years to their 2022 free agent class.
Stein has been with the Bears for over 20 years, with his current title being Senior Vice President and General Counsel, but prior to the Pace regime he was known for signing the rookie class as quick as possible and for keeping Chicago’s salary cap in a relatively good place.
Before joining the Bears’ organization Stein was a player agent from 1994 to 2001, so perhaps his unique ability to see things from both perspectives helps him get the job done in a fair and timely manner.