Our good friend Kevin Seifert over at ESPN.com posted the 2009 unadjusted salary-cap figures for the four teams in the NFC North last night.
The Bears are last in the group at $17.4 million, but that right there is more than enough room to make any and all moves general manager Jerry Angelo has in mind for the offseason.
When you factor in what should be a credit of more than $9 million for cornerback Marcus Hamilton, the Bears should have more than $26 million in cap room under what is expected to be a $123 million cap ceiling. The cap used to be a much greater factor than it is now. You don't see cap casualties like you used to and nearly every team has ample flexibility. That the Bears have the least amount of money available in the division, per the Seifert report that is worth checking out, is proof enough.
So, when it comes to putting together the offseason shopping list, the Bears will be focused on cash, not cap. It will come down to how much money team president Ted Phillips allocates to the roster.
Here's a look at the Bears' top salary-cap figures for 2009:
1. MLB Brian Urlacher $9,685,505
2. DT Tommie Harris $9,090,000
3. WR Devin Hester $6,885,883
4. LB Lance Briggs $6,766,666
5. DE Adewale Ogunleye $6,465,576
6. RT John Tait $5,350,000
7. CB Nathan Vasher $4,866,666
8. CB Charles Tillman $4,716,666
For what it's worth, running back Cedric Benson will count $2,509,000 in dead money vs. the cap.
It's not surprise that six of the top eight players are on defense. Barring significant change, the Bears will once again be one of the top-invested franchises in the league when it comes to money dedicated to defensive players under the salary cap. Only the Baltimore Ravens had more money allocated for defense under the cap this season than the Bears. The Ravens are a win away from the AFC Championship Game. The Bears finished ranked 21st in the league.