Chicago Sun-Times

Slicing the pie: A look at the Bears' '07 salary cap

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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.

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Put Archuleta in Benson's back and run them both out of town.

I think we are in a favorable situation to obtain most of our offseason needs. We try to resign Berrian but only at a fair price. Sign Davis for he will not be expensive, and we cant get rid of all our receivers. You sign Fanica/guard, and either Turner/rb, or Fargas/rb, they are several more to consider that will come inexpensive, and competition to the Benson Buster. You move Tait to RT and draft a LT at the #2 draft spot. Their are 6 good LTs and chances of getting one are good. We need to pick up receivers in FA, such as D. J. Hackett and draft a couple in the draft.Our Qb situation will not be able to upgraded. Even if we draft a high pick of a QB they will not be able to help us next year. So we need to rebuild our offensive line, find a running game again and up grade our receivers.As far as the draft goes:

#1 Maualaga/lb USC
#2 Williams/ot Vandy or Cherilous/ot BC
#3a Monk/wr Ark or Hubbard/wr Wi (will replace Moose eventually)
#3b Schmitt/fb WV (a big back that can help in the running game)
#4 Adams/ss Mich
#5 Franklin/wr Misso
#6 O'Donnell/og Ill
#7 Shirley/dt Fresno

To summarize:
We have upgraded our defense to be a top 5 again. We have the best special teams in the league. We rebulit the offensive line and hopefully add a running game. Upgrade the receiver position and with our te's , hopefully have an useable qb situation. The ego trip the coaching staff was on will end and they can get back to reallity of this team.

If cap space isn't a problem, the Bears need to keep Berrian around, either long term or with the tag. They can't hope that Hester will develop into a top receiver. He is the best returner ever and they can't risk his health having him catch passes over the middle. He should be used only as a deep threat or as a decoy.

Even if the Bears want Grossman back and he wants to come back, I think another team is going to sign him away. Draft another middle-round Orton type QB and have an actual competion in mini/training camp.

Good Idea,Re-sign briggs to a long term deal.If salary cap isnt a big problem try to get a good rb and decent qb.Draft good o-lineman and a DT and /or Saftey,and maybe work a sign and trade with berrian or grossman.I thought Orton did a better job anyway.But maybe a wr wouldnt be too bad? Oh well,it wont matter somthing like the Mckaskeys bieng cheap or jerry angelo being goofy will hinder our Bears yet again!Just my feeling.

I don't see the Bears spending the money they should to make this team a true contender. They have the salary cap space but aren't willing to spend the cash. I guess that makes us all "Suckers" for supporting a team that takes our allegience for granted to line the McCaskey's pockets. I've been a loyal Bears fan for over thirty years but I'm thinking of shopping for a new team! I kinda like the Cowboys. At least their owner will spend money to be competitive.

It's amazing how many people are so keen to drafting New Qb's and Rb's. Sooner or later guys are other positions do get old and free agency isnt going to keep the team young! I want o see a OT, OG, WR, and a FB drafted. offensively and i was thinking a DT or maybe a SS defensively. QB and RB will come around for us. who knows maybe garret wolfe breaks out like a reggie bush. not likely, but we can all hope so!

Offensive line, and defense from their. Jim hit the nail on the head when he mentioned the QB situation. There is simply nothing better out there worth the investment. Derek anderson would be a good, but would cost significant money and a first and third round draft pick. Unless the bears are willing to trade for McNabb (which they wont) we'll end up starting next year with the same QB situation as this year (regardless of whether they bring in new personel).

O-line is the need. we don't give our quarterbacks any time to throw, and, we get no push up front on run plays. They are simply too old, too slow, and didnt get the job done. I think both Guard spots should be looked at. If they are not the problem then we have some serious scheme issues.

With that in mind Benson is a major dissapointment. The bears owe it to their fans to make a move for Dallas RB Julius Jones. With Benson being a texas boy and Jones the brother of our departed RB Thomas Jones there is logic to the move. Marion Barber is winning over fans in Dallas and we could maybe get jones for relatively little. Julius Jones is young, fast, and agile. He has some injury concerns but would be a good fit with a revamped oline.

Defense, hold on to briggs if you can. If we lose Briggs, we need to bring another solid LB, possibly in the draft. (S,FS,CB) should be fine if they stay healthy. With Vasher, Tillman, and brown we have three potential pro-bowlers. We may want to bring in another young guy through the draft either for the safety spot or nickel corner

WR, Berrian is not a necessity. Let me qualify that. He's our best reciever by far, he may even be much better then we know. But he's not the guy we should break the bank on. He can't dominate the game on his own, we know that for sure. that being said why spend a truck load of money to keep a guy scoring 4-6 TD's a year? I love'em but between him a 7 million and mark bradley at 500,000 / I'll give bradley a chance.

When I hear fans complaining about how cheap the Bears are I wonder if they just fell off the truck or unable to take the time to read about the rules of the salary cap. All teams pretty much spend the same for players. The Bears spend as much as anyone in the league when it comes to players salary. There are two things that help richer teams compete. Guarantied up front cash ie, signing bonus which is spread out over the length of the contract. This is based on cash reserves which allow teams like Dallas and the Redskins to borrow from the future. The other advantage is the coaching staff and facilities. Teams like the Patriots, Dallas and the Redskins do have an advantage because these costs do not enter into the cap figures.

So you guys that keep complaining about the Bears being cheap, wake up and try getting educated before you spout foolish statements about the Bears being too cheap to pay for good players. The facts do not support your contention.

Cap space is not a term in the McCaskey vocabulary.

It was true in Ditka's day, and still is today: Da Bears throw nickels around like manhole covers. Cheap, cheap, cheap!

Our learned friend TGMB thinks the Bears are willing to spend as much as any NFL team and the salary cap is a great equalizer. He also suggests we should learn about NFL finances before we speak. I suggest he do the same. There are different ways to to structure a players deal and how much of the contract affects the salary cap. In the Sun Time the recent article suggests that the Bears will have a large amount of cap room but the SUN TIMES says that it is doubtful the Bears will spend the CASH. The constraint is with the Bears owners unwillingness to do whatever it takes to put a winning team on the field. We're chumps for supporting an organization that gives us an inferior product!


You are right that the Bears cheapness comes through in their coaching staff-one of the lowest paid and least experienced in the league. It has been this way for years. When is the last time the Bears chose a coach with an established resume with assisstants with real experience. This is too expensive for the Bears.

as far as the cap goes, i agree the Bears spend up to what other teams spend but they spend it on the wrong people. Giving all that money to Adam A after he failed in washington just because he was buddies with Lovie was stupid. Plus they traded Chris Harris who I think had a pretty good year. How in the world if you dont resign berrian, briggs, Anajedo(spelling?) and Miller, plus let Darwin walker go and Adam A, not to have as much to spend on the free agents you want makes no sense to me. If they don't resign thes guys they should have their picks with the highest paid players in the o line market.


It's unbelievable how quickly this team got old. The offensive line is ancient. They need at least two quality OLinemen, upgrades at d-back, a replacement for Briggs, at least one WR. A ling list to fill in one year. This is probably a multi year rebuild.

I want to see Doug Buffone and Tom Thayer be part of Bears management in some type of capacity...As true fans we use so much of our valuable time following the Bears,its a true passion, but we have no control over what they do or dont do...And that sucks, but its reality...So no matter what the they do to improve our team we will always follow them...But damn it hurts when they make stupid mistakes...And when are we going to get a franchise QB??? I could go on and on, but I need to get another beer...
GO BEARS................

i think they should line devon hester up in the shotgun and snap him the ball. if he doesn't run he can pass it or pitch it. every play would be like an option. the other people handling the ball would be capable of running, passing and catching in the same capacity- like berrian and maybe garret wolfe. the type of plays they could come up with would be exciting. also, they need a strong safety, i nominate brian urlacher. i'd also like to see him catch a few passes on offence. if they don't put hester at qb(they won't- they'd be worried about too many turn overs) then they have to finally realize they will never be a top franchise without a franchise quarterback. based on how donavan mcnabb played at the end of this year i'd have to say that if he was interested in coming back to chicago it's the best money you could spend. him coming to chicago would generate more interest and optimism than any other player i can think of. his salary would be offset by increased revenues from things like jersey sales. he'd be an instant star and leader of the offence. when you think about it, we don't have one right now - not even close.(star, leader or offence)

the bears need to cut darwin walker and sign albert haynesworth

First - The Bears have to draft a QB.
Right now, they have 3 second string quarterbacks.
Griese or Grossman HAS to go.
McNabb isn't going anywhere (and he's 32 and injury prone).
Anderson would cost too much in terms of picks.
Matt Ryan would be IDEAL as he's everything Grossman isn't:
6'5", smart, and fearless in the pocket. His learning curve
in the NFL will be very quick. But it looks like he's going
to end up on the Falcons as the anti-Vick or at Baltimore
as the next new hope.
The next thing they need is O lineman. Take Baker, Otah or
Cherilus if available. Then draft another.
RB is a question mark. Benson is on the bubble. Hard to blame
the guy completely without any blocking whatsoever -- and now
he has to comeback from a bad injury -- but this is his career
year. And for the last time, Thomas Jones was NOT the answer
for the Bears. Check his yards per carry average last year
with Benson's -- virtually the same. The Bears need a power
back, plain and simple. If there is even a chance of
getting Burner Turner or -- please, god -- Chester Taylor from
the Vikings, that would be an instant "yes" for the Bears.
Next - safety.
Mike Brown is a demon but his tendency for injury makes this
a necessity. Phillips will probably be gone but Barret or Adams
would be nice.
If they let Briggs and/or Berrian end up on the Redskins...
bad. Very bad.
If Briggs and/or Berrian end up just going for the $$$ and end
up in SF and Oakland, respectively, as has been postulated recently, then who cares?
Neither will see a championship.
Better to take a little less on a playoff team than a truckload
on a bottom dweller.

I can not believe the stupidity coming out from this blog. Very few of you know anything about what to do. Some good points were made but far more horrible ones.

We do not need to shell out millions for Lance Brings. We have 2, yes 2 very capable linebackers just waiting in the wings. Jamar Is exactly the same type of player Lance is, only faster. Okowo is exactly the same type of player Lance is. This is not a need position.

All who said O-line is the biggest need are correct. This is the MUST NEED for the Bears. They will be nothing without some life put into the O-line.

The next major NEED is safety. Mike Brown has been hurt to season ending injuries the last 4 years. Yes, all these were differant injuries but season ending all the same. We cannot count on him being healthy all year. we did that last years and look what happened.

Jerry Angelo couldn't find offensive talent if it bit him in the ass. We will never have a franchise QB as long as general manger and head coach think Grossman has talent. He has talent alright, LOSING talent. There are far to many needs for this team to compete, and Angelo WILL NOT address them as long as he thinks we need COMPETITION and that's all. That means he is satisfied with what he has done and these guys just need to be pushed. Good luck BEARS. I love you as a fan, but you wil go no where as long as Jerry Angelo is GM and McCaskey runs the team!
Berrian is NOT a franchise wide receiver. His is good but not at the price he will receive on the open market.

Competition is not what we need a RB. We need a new one. It's not because Benson sucks(which he does) it's because of his ATTITUDE. He is a me first player and always has been. His is extremely ignort of what it takes to play a team sport.

Adam A was the worst move the BEars made all year. I supported the decision to bring him in. I was wrong. He is flat out horrible

Unlike most of what is being said or printed the Bears are broken and no quick fix is going to help. Go for linemen on both sides of the ball and a running back first. Then go with what you got to start the rebuilding process.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 6, 2008 9:50 AM.

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