There is a breakdown of the top 15 salary-cap figures on the Bears’ roster for the 2007 season in the Sunday print/online edition.
It’s interesting to see how the pie was divided for the season and what the organization got for its money. The figures are not what the players earned in pay for the season, but the space they took up under the salary cap, which was at $109 million unadjusted. The good news moving forward for the Bears is they are in solid footing under the cap, a product of strong drafting on defense and careful work by contract negotiator Cliff Stein. In fact, the Bears have so much room it may be a question of cash on hand and the spending budget instead of the salary cap when it comes to getting major deals done.
General manager Jerry Angelo and the front office will put values on players. You typically have to overpay in free agency, but if the Bears opt to do a big deal—like signing Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs to a longterm contract—the room is there and then some. Briggs commanded the most cap space in ’07 by virtue of the franchise tag for $7.206 million.
Backing the 'backers
Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher was next at $5,850,510. When you factor in strong-side linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer’s cap figure of $1.5 million, you begin to understand the caution in tying up a lot of money in one position. That’s a total of $14,556,510 for the starting linebackers or 13.35 percent of the team’s total cap space.
The bulk of the line
The Sun-Times determined that three of the five starting offensive linemen from the beginning of the season were in the top eight, led by center Olin Kreutz at $5,666,670. Kreutz, tackles John Tait and Fred Miller and guards Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza combined for $19,091,600 in cap room, or 17.5 percent of the unadjusted total.
Annually, the Bears have been near the bottom of the league in cap space dedicated to quarterbacks. Again, that was likely the case although figures for other organizations are unavailable. Brian Griese was 15th on the roster at $2,500,000, the only QB in the top 15. Matched with Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, the QB’s totaled only $5,546,120. Combined, that total would be only fifth on the roster if it belonged to one player.
Biggest bargains in the top 15
DE Adewale Ogunleye $5,563,055. Say what you want about past seasons, but he was the most consistent performer in the front seven from start to finish.
CB Charles Tillman $5,432,386. Tillman’s season might have warranted more attention nationally had the secondary not used seven other starters during the course of the season. The lack of experience and chemistry led to breakdowns and big plays by the unit, but not Tillman.
Biggest busts in the top 15
S Adam Archuleta $5,098,600. The Bears join Daniel Snyder’s Redskins in swinging and missing with him. It’s safe to say it wasn’t a question of him being used out of position in Washington.
RB Cedric Benson $3,133,680. It’s not difficult to find running backs that can generate pedestrian results. Following Angelo’s remarks, it’s clear Benson will receive one more opportunity. Maybe a revamped line will make a difference.