Chicago Sun-Times

Bears in prime offseason salary-cap position

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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.

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21 Comments

That's because Baltimore has competent, professional coaching. We have Lovie Smith

1. MLB Brian Urlacher $9,685,505--Twilight of his career
2. DT Tommie Harris $9,090,000--Body of a 40 yr old and it shows.
3. WR Devin Hester $6,885,883--0 special teams TDs
4. LB Lance Briggs $6,766,666--Pro Bowler
5. DE Adewale Ogunleye $6,465,576--Downward slope
6. RT John Tait $5,350,000--34 in a few weeks
7. CB Nathan Vasher $4,866,666--Down yr. May be cut
8. CB Charles Tillman $4,716,666--move 2 Safety? was exposed this yr.

Does anyone else find it absolutly sad that Tommie counts for over 9 million next season, and is said to be one of the better DT's in the league but he does hardly anything in terms of helping us against the run. I would find it much easier as a G.M. to pay a large sum of money to a DT who can atleast command a constant double team, and someone who keeps people off our linebackers. This is why building your line "financial wise" around a three-technique tackle instead of a nose tackle makes no sense at all. Do you think it hurts the Titans for examlpe to shell out dough for big Albert Haynesworth when it comes time, or when the Pat's do the same for Vince Wilfork. The answer is no because those guys make your entire defense better because they do a heck of a lot more than occasionally rushing the passer, they shut down the most vital component of a team's offense, "the run game." This is why until the Bears either find their own dominating nose tackle (free agency or draft)or possibly bulk up one of our own (Adams or Harrison) we will continue to be sub-par on the defensive side of the ball. Here's hoping we finally see this reality. GO BEARS!!

Bill,

Kudos to you! You have written probably the most intelligent piece I've seen on these blogs. You absolutely hit the nail on the head. I badly wanted Vince Woolfork and NOT Tommie Harris in 2004.

Admittedly, after the first couple of seasons,I grew to love Tommie. However, it seems his play has dipped dramatically the last two years.

I firmly believe we should scrap the Cover-2 (it should be called Cover-0) and revert to a much more agressive style of 'D'. Maybe we could bring back the '46'!

Brad,
Can you explain why Marcus Hamilton is resulting in a credit of $9 million?

And does this include Ricky Manning, Fred Miller, Muhammed, and other cuts from the 2008 offseason?

If we make the moves that we should, such as letting Tait go, cutting Vasher, and saying goodbye to Ogunleye, we should be in a good position to go after Peppers or Houshmanzadeh, as well as pick up some solid depth. Guys who could be on the market:

CAR--Jordan Gross for RT
SD--Mike Goff for RG
SEA--Leroy Hill for SLB
JAC--Mike Peterson for SLB
TB--Jermaine Phillips for FS
CLE--Sean Jones for SS (move Payne to FS permanently)
TB--Jovan Haye at DT

Less likely available:
Vernon Carey out of Miami for RT
Jahri Evans in New Orleans for RG
Stacy Andrews in CIN for RG or RT

We should be active to get what we need, and what we need is linemen on both sides of the ball.

BillH,

I don't know all aspects of the salary cap but I seem to recall that Harris' contract was front-loaded and many incentives in the out years. So his contract becomes more affordable and if his play declines then he is less of a salary hit. But maybe someone else can explain the salary cap and Harris' impact on it. In short, I am not as concerned about Harris' contract.

The second point about having a solid NT is spot on. It would mean less blitzing by LB, deeper drops by them and free Brian from OL. As much as I would like a speed rusher, I would take a dominant NT like Haynesworth first.

1. MLB Brian Urlacher $9,685,505--Still our best def player,even slowning down

2. DT Tommie Harris $9,090,000--Body of a 40 yr old and it shows.

3. WR Devin Hester $6,885,883--0 special teams TDs (we dont need him to)

4. LB Lance Briggs $6,766,666--Pro Bowler Missed alot of tackles that the rest of the team wiffed on.

5. DE Adewale Ogunleye $6,465,576--Downward slope (alex brown was almost cut)

6. RT John Tait $5,350,000--34 in a few weeks (one more year)

7. CB Nathan Vasher $4,866,666--Down yr. May be cut Missed twice as many games as hes played in the last two years)

8. CB Charles Tillman $4,716,666--move 2 Safety? was exposed this yr. (played with two hurt shoulders and still was good. funny how harsh you are on the one db we have with heart who plays well)

9. Bob Babbich, ruined all of these players with the mug up look. Fire him get a real dc, and then evaluate the defensive players harsh. Or is our offense really that close to making a push for the Superbowl? Im sorry I missed that.

JPCZ and Bill-

What you guys don't understand when it comes to Wilfork and Haynesworth is that they don't fit in our defensive scheme. We employ a 1 gap penetrating scheme for the DT position Harris is playing. Fat boys like Wilford and Haynesworth can't fill that role. What we need out of that position is a disruptive force. While I'll admit Tommie wasn't the same Tommie this year, he had a lot of personal issues going on early in the year and quite frankly, he did look like the Tommie Harris that we all know toward the end of the year.

JPCZ and Bill Holland,

Everybody's play has dipped the last 2 years. Ever since Ron Rivera was let go and Lovie had full control on how this team was going to be run both offensively as well as defensively.
You can blame it all on Lovie. You can bet...replace the whole team with pro-bowlers and you still won't go anywhere. The cover-2 (prevent defense) will on cut it. Expect an 8 and 8 season next year. This defensive scheme makes the worst out of our players. Don't believe me? Just see what Ron Rivera did in just a couple of weeks with the same players in San Diego...or what a few new coaches did on bad teams such as Arizona (you remember this one .."The Bears are what we thought they were, they're what we thought they were")...or Miami.
The point is...its the coaches that make good teams. When you have a bad coach, nothing will help short of firing the coach.
Draft who you will but this team is going no where fast.

I don't know if I missed a relevant article, or there is some hole in the space-time continuim, but what is the deal with a 9 million dollar credit for Marcus Hamilton? I know they adjust the cap space due do incentives...how does Hamilton count for that much space during the season?

We will all see exactly who we are going to be by the 1st offseason move the team makes. If we aggresively seek out a WR via trade or free agency we may have a chance. If we settle for another garbage, washed up QB (remember Kordell) then we might as well all give up now. I believe that if we have a #1 receiver and start treating Hester as the #2 that he is we will succeed with Orton, Forte and 2 good TE's in Olsen and Clark.

Why is it so hard for the organization to see this? Angelo the douche wants to bring in a QB for competition with Orton. I ask who???? There is no one worth it in free agency. I would have liked to see them keep Griese, at least he is a good number 2 and can win when he needs to. Instead we kept the midget Grossman who thankfully will be gone this season.

Next question is 1 we all are asking in "why is Babich still on the staff?" He took a great D and ran it into the ground 2 years in a row. WHY??

Lastly: PackerBacker stop hitting our site with your lame attempt to know anything about football or a real team. Take that cheese off your head and plug up that hole we all know as your mouth or is it your a##?

With all the money already on defensive players, I don't see the Bears making a big splash, free agent wise, on that side of the ball. Although, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers would be a great addition, and would fill a HUGE need area, pass rusher, I just don't see the Panthers letting Peppers go, and with all that money the Bears already have invested on the defensive side of the ball, I don't think they will match what the Panthers will pay Peppers. Hopefully Im wrong. If Chicago does not acquire Peppers, they will have no choice but to draft a [pass rusher] defensive end. If a couple juniors declare, George Selvie of South Florida, Everette Brown of Florida state, and Greg Hardy of Mississippi, the first round will be loaded with young pass rushers, along with seniors Brian Orakpo of Texas and Michael Johnson of Georgia tech, Chicago could easily draft one.

Chicago could also use some size at the nose tackle position, although Anthony Adams did play some good football for the Bears late in the season, I still think the Bears need some size at the position. Free agent wise, Albert Haynesworth would be a great signing, but like Peppers, I don't see the Bears matching what Tennessee will pay Haynesworth. Chicago's best bet would be to stick with Adams, and try second year defensive tackle Marcus Harrison, who at 6-3 310lbs, would add much needed size to the position. I look for Harrison, who was impressive as a rookie, to really come on in his second season. If Chicago wants to keep Harrison at the three technique, maybe later in the draft they could select Boston college nose tackle Ron Brace 6-3 330lbs, who nobody is talking about because of team mate, B.J. Raji. Scouts say Brace has the ability to collapse the pocket, and is a force vs the run, Chicago could land Brace in the fourth round, might not be a bad idea.

Jerry Angelo can land offensive players draft wise, runningback Matt Forte, and tight end Greg Olsen who caught 54 passes this season, Forte and Olsen are both considered up and comers at their position. Jerry Angelo has landed both of these players in back to back drafts on the first day, so Angelo has shown he can land offensive talent through the draft. Bottom line although, Angelo is better at drafting defensive players, and right now, Chicago's top offensive need is a wide receiver, and rookie receivers usually don't contribute right of the bat. I say spend the money on a free agent receiver like T.J. Houshmandzadeh, then look to the draft for help on defense, namely a defensive end, and a safety.

The scary thing is, outside of Houshmandzadeh, theres not much out there free agent wise as far as receiver. Maybe Titans receiver Brandon Jones, who has nice size at 6-1 187lbs, caught 41 balls for 449 yds this season, Jones is a 5th year player. At the least, Jones could add depth, and much needed experience at the receiver position. Currently on the roster, believe it or not, there is potential. I can see Devin Hester getting better at receiver, 51 catches isn't bad for a guy who has only played the position for 2 seasons. I look for 2nd year receiver Earl Bennett to surprise some people also. A lot of fans are down on Bennett for not getting on the field a lot as a rookie, I say give the guy a chance, not every rookie is NFL ready, especially receivers GO BEARS!!

i truely dont understand the desire to dump the cover-2

this is a defense that EVERY team in the NFL plays...its 2 deep safety zone...its as old as the foward pass...the scheme isnt the issue...the players doing whats necessary to make the scheme work is the issue...

bringing back the 4-6 defense is silly and we as bears fans need to get unfixated on the 85 bears...they had the GREATEST defensive team in NFL history with an over abundance in talent...

the bears honesty dont have that same wealth of talent...they just dont

and i dont understand how you can be more aggressive than being the most blitzing team in the nfl...briggs and urlacher CANNOT effectively blitz the QB...not from the inside at least...

they need a infusion of talent...and better coaching ESPECIALLY on the DL...i see nothing but speed rushing from the outside and to be an effective pass rusher you need more "moves" than that...thats a coaching issue...

fixing the DL is the key for the offense to get better...but asking any DB to cover someone while the opposing QB takes a 7 step drop and has enuff time to scan the field and have a lemonade is asking a lot of any corner

What GM was crazy enough to accept that deal from Hamilton's agent? Didn't he start the year in Tampa? Holy smokes, you have to carry that on your cap the entire year....Good thing is that it didn't hurt us much this year. The credit will be nice to get, and could allow us to be even more aggressive in jettisoning underperforming players. Tait, Ogunleye, Vasher...Cap hit could be upwards of $9M, but not inordinately so. When you take their salaries off the books, we probably look pretty good in the wash. All we would be liable for is the accelerated signing bonus, or remaining bonus money still amortized on the cap in the case of Tait and Ogunleye.

We need to get the following out of free agency in my opinion:

WR--anything is an improvement over Booker and Davis. I agree that Bennett will be a better contributor with a full offseason of work, and Hester is growing every week. Houshmanzadeh would be ideal, but maybe there will be someone out there that we don't expect right now
RT--Jordan Gross may be our ticket to solid line play. Tait can go, and Gross wouldn't command much more than the $5.6 mil salary per year, and he is still relatively young
RG--Mike Goff is the best option out there, but Stacy Andrews, Vernon Carey, and Jahri Evans would all be decent options. I am not convinced that we don't already have the solution on the roster--Buenning, Addams, Metcalf are all capable of playing one of the guard spots, and Beekman will continue to get better. If we get Gross, I would love to see Beekman on the right side, and Buenning on the left to help Chris Williams on that side. We could run either direction with equal effectiveness, and might not have to pull the backside guard into a quick trap run, and could hit the hole faster....

That leaves the draft for the QB, DE, DT, LB, S, and probably another WR. Taylor Mays would be a big help, but I would venture we could do better by drafting one of the edge rushers in round 1, and then determine whether we can get the safety in 2 or 3, and then move on through the rest of the need positions. Odds are one of the safeties will be there in the second round, and we can get linebackers on day 2 to provide depth. If we get really crazy, we can trade our 2010 first rounder to get a target later in the first round, like a QB, WR, or S.

We may not fix all of our problems this offseason, but this much remains true, as it always does. If you have guys that can protect the passer, and guys who can get to the passer, it makes the rest of your team significantly better. better OL play makes Orton able to throw down the field more, which stretches the defense, which opens holes for Forte. Getting Jordan Gross alone would fix that. If we upgrade the pass rush, the linebackers can stay back in coverage and not be needed to blitz as much, which means better run defense, and less time for the secondary to cover. Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz, Kevin Payne, Brandon McGowan...not much to write home about, but when they only need to cover for 4-5 seconds, it can be done...


B.C. I am quite aware of the scheme we run at the DT position, and I realize having a disruptive three-technique like Tommie is a big part of that. What your forgetting is that their are 2 positions at defensive tackle: 3 technique AND nose tackle. There is absolutly no reason a guy like Haynesworth or Wilfork could not be a part of our defense. Yes they would not replace Tommie at the Under tackle position, but they sure would be great nose tacles in our scheme, or ANY scheme for that matter. Saying that BOTH of our tackle positions should be the same is ridiculous, and having our nose tackle resembling our three-technique in terms of size (300 pounds or less) is even more rediculous. Even when Tommie is playing well he is not and imposing force against the run, and who plays next to him at nose makes all the difference. And one last comment about "the scheme" you mentioned, I very clearly remember Coach Smith stating he is not against bigger tackles, just not "fat' guys, and I would hardly consider Albert Haynesworth fat. The bottom line is that a guy like Haynesworth would make all the difference in our defense, and if Jerry Angelo is serious when he says the team needs to look harder at the scheme of his defense, hopefully he starts at the nose tackle. I do agree with Kevin that if we don't bring in Haynesworth that we can beef up a couple of guys like Adams or Harrison who's physiques have the ability to handle the added weight. Harrison for example at 320-325(he's around 310 right now) could be and imposing force. GO BEARS!!

If the Bears could get Haynesworth and Houshmandzadeh, it would be a great offseason for the Bears. These 2 guys would make everyone else better, including Orton on offense and Harris and Urlacher on defense. As far as Haynesworth fitting the scheme, screw the scheme. This guy can play. Make the scheme fit him. Good defensive tackles make linebackers and defensive backs better than they really are.

As for the draft I would not be opposed to the Bears drafting the top free safety on the board, if he is worthy of being picked at #18. They should also start loading up on offensive guards and tackles, especially road maulers. I felt sorry for Forte trying to get yardage thru the so-called 'holes' this year. And bring back Mike Brown, I don't care what his past injury situation has been.

The Bears will always struggle because they hire coaches on the cheap. Since George Halas they haven't had one head coach with prior head coaching experience. always someone else's cheap assistant. Even Lovie Smith is one of the lowest paid head coaches in the league. I mean they let George Allen leave to keep Jim Dooley for peat's sake! Miami goes from 1-15 to 11-5 because they paid a million bucks to a guy who knows how to draft, evaluate talent, hire a competent head coach and run a football team - Bill Parcells. next year ...Shannahan and Cohwer are there for the asking. Pigs will fly before the McCaskey's ever even ASK THEM to even contemplates coming to Chicago.

I wanted Wilfork as well, and I feel he could play here, I also feel that the Cover 2 is not a bad scheme, but I am not sure we played a real cover 2- the Backers seemed to be dropping into coverage too slow/late or blitz too slow/late, the line did nothing - URL was always somwhere besides where the ball was. (along with the entire team lol) I agree with the line assesment as well, how can any DB cover for that long. Yeop the 46 would be great but we would need better players for that as well.
When we see the FA we get with this cap we will all know once and for all where this team is headed and will show what the owners Ted/JA feel we as fans deserve.

All you koolaid drinkers need to get real. Do you expect the McCaskeys to pony up some dough or Jerry Angelo to know how to spend it? The y will not spend the money they have for their pockets and Angelo has no clue. It's time to get rid of the entire right side of the offensive line, Tommie Harris might be better served at DE moving Harrison into that spot saying goodbye to Wale and both Oklahoma, Ole Miss and LSU have O-Linemen that are large and good road graders, also Missouri has a very good safety but in house Tillman would be a great bridge for a young free safety, but all of this would take some thought and some coaching and it seems both are missing.

Brad,

Can you list or tell us where to find the Bears total salary-cap figures for 2009?

Especially the figures for the following players:

Terrence Metcalf
Marty Booker
Rashied Davis
Dusty Dvoracek
Roberto Garza
Hunter Hillenmeyer
Jason McKie
Adrian Peterson

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on January 6, 2009 8:32 AM.

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