Chicago Sun-Times

29 days to Camp: Bears have more than $17 million in cap room

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There is more than a $20 bill in Jerry Angelo's pocket.

The general manager likes to joke that he doesn't have money burning a hole in his wallet, and often references having an Andy Jackson in his pocket. That may be the case but the Bears have much more than that remaining in room under the 2009 salary cap.

A check on Wednesday afternoon of the most recent figures indicates that the Bears remain $17.67 million under their adjusted salary-cap figure of $135.9 million. That means the organization has committed 86.99 percent of its cap to this point and there is plenty of room left over for spending.

More and more it seems unlikely Plaxico Burress will be sitting down to the table to enjoy a piece of that (salary cap) pie. During our company-imposed vacation, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that commissioner Roger Goodell could come down hard on Burress and make it difficult for him to be on the field in 2009. Burress has reportedly turned down plea deals that would have landed him in the poky for a short amount of time, so short that he could have already done his time and be out on the street. Now, the case is trudging along through the New York court system. Goodell wants accountability from players and when Burress, who had a hole in his leg from his unlicensed hand gun, does all he can to avoid that accountability, it might not bode well for him when it comes time to hear from the league.

Burress' agent Drew Rosenhaus is doing all he can to drum up business, reporting recently that five teams are now interested in Burress. Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have come out and said you can count them out. There was a report out of New York that the Jets may have cooled on the idea. If the Bears are not in play, Rosenhaus' list just got trimmed in half, at least.

So, let's take a look at where that $17.67 million could go. Remember, general manager Jerry Angelo and president Ted Phillips said that although streamlining was going on in the organization, the football budget would not be affected by the economy.

1. Jay Cutler. We wrote here previously that the Bears will look to do something long term with Cutler, perhaps during the season. They'll need to make that move in October probably in order to take advantage of the cap room and apply money to this season. It makes perfect sense. Yes, Cutler remains under contract for three more seasons. But he has a $12 million roster bonus in 2012 that the team would probably like to avoid. Forget the idea of waiting to see how Cutler performs. They got him for the long haul and they're going to invest in him for the long haul. But quarterback deals take time to put together. Why not start during training camp?

Let's face it, after Cutler there isn't an obvious candidate that jumps out and screams, "Show me the money!" Not from our vantage point, any way. But let's look at some candidates:

Anthony Adams. The defensive tackle is entering the third year of a modest four-year contract. If Adams emerges from training camp as the starting nose tackle, perhaps he merits a modest extension at some point. He's proven to be valuable every time he's been called on, which makes it a wonder why the coaching staff has gone away from him on occasion.

Mark Anderson
. The defensive end is entering the final year of his rookie contract. If a new CBA can be hammered out he will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Anderson could either be a hot commodity by the end of the season or just another guy who is another season removed from his breakout 2006 rookie year. It might be prudent for the Bears to wait until season's end to fully evaluate him and not pay him by midseason to apply money to the 2009 salary cap.

Adewale Ogunleye. He turns 32 next month which means he'll be 33 when the 2010 season begins. We're not ready to say whether or not the Bears should re-invest in Ogunleye, but if he performs well and is willing to come back at the right price, it would take some of the gamble out of trying to replace him with an unknown. We'll see how rookies Jarron Gilbert and Henry Melton fare this season. Gilbert will be worked as a tackle but might eventually find himself at left end.

Kevin Payne. If Payne had remained at strong safety for the entire season, he just might have led the Bears in tackles. He's expected to be back in that role this season. If he can improve in his second season as a starter, perhaps he's worth looking at in terms of an extension. But, again, that's a decision best made at this time next year, not in the middle of the season.

Brandon Rideau. If the Bears buck the trend at wide receiver and find a hidden talent here, securing him with a modest deal would make a lot of sense. There's a big difference between running with the first team on occasion in OTA's and running with the ones in preseason. Let's see how this pans out.

Maybe we missed someone--it wouldn't be the first time--but no one clearly jumps out at us other than Cutler. A deal for him is going to take up a lot of money. That's why having more than $17 million in cap space isn't a bad thing right now.

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18 Comments

Brad Biggs for President or at least GM. Nicely analysed.

I have my doubts about Rideau being a solid contributor when the lights come on during the regular season, but this is not virgin territory. Marcus Robinson was on the practice squad for 2 years if I remember correctly, and went on to have a huge season for the Bears before getting injured, and continued a nice career for the Ravens before hanging it up.

The salary cap also has a floor, but are we above it yet? From what I read, teams are required to spend a certain amount of their cap, or they are penalized just like they would be if they were over the cap. Green Bay does a bunch of front-loaded contracts to fill up their cap requirement, and we seem to run it as a long-term strategy, planning the cap for several years in advance. Not sure which plan works better, but points can be made for both sides.

Cutler needs to be addressed, and we can start on that this season, and use the $17 million this year as part of a signing bonus for a long-term extension.

I think we are making a mistake if we go after Burress, just because I do not expect the commish to let him play this year. And despite how well Adams and Payne have done, neither is worthy of an extension yet.

And I think we need to see what Marinelli can do with Ogunleye and Anderson. If Wale can't produce double-digit sacks this year, no way we sign him to an extension. Even if he does, I do not think he is going to be productive for 3-4 more years to be worth the extension. He has been stealing top line defensive end money here without producing the results that go along with it (3 out of 5 seasons in Chicago with less than 7 sacks is not acceptable for a top shelf DE). Anderson has been horrible the last two years, so he might be able to be signed for a really modest deal early, or if he has a good season, you replace Wale with him.

The Bears have one guy who should be getting a new deal, and that's #6. Everything else should be approached with a "wait and see" approach.

Brad - In my mind I would add these to the list of "possibilities"

Pisa Tinoisamoa (Age 27)- If he becomes the starting SSLB and plays well, why wouldn't we retain him beyond his 1 year deal? The Bears have an opportunity to field the best 4-3 LB core in the NFL this season, and if it works, why not hang on to it? With Urlacher in his 30's, I think it would be much easier to focus on "eventually" replacing one LB, instead of 2. There is something to be said for the young talent behind them in Williams and Roach, but I have to imagine Pisa could earn himself an extension/long term deal if he fits the bill well.

Jamar Williams - He is in a contract year, isn't he? He projects as the future behind Urlacher and/or Briggs as far as I know and has had a stellar start with OTAs. Based on how that translates to camp and pre-season games, it might be worth keeping a "startable" back up LB, especially if the Bears feel he can ever take over as MLB. Just a thought.

Corey Graham (Age 23) - If he becomes the starting Free Safety (big if, I know) and plays at a high level, the Bears need to lock him up. Safety has been a nagging problem for the Bears since Brown's injuries started and if Graham projects as a long term answer, in the 3rd of his 4 year contract, I can't imagine us not considering extending him if the price is right. On that note, IF Payne takes it to the next level, we might want to lock him up too.

Greg Olsen (Age 24) - I know, he signed a 5 year deal and this is only the third season...But if he has a true breakout season in the works, it might be time to lock him up to another long term deal while we have the money for it.

We also might want to consider retaining Buenning, based on how we feel he will be as a back-up Center/future right guard.

Its easy to dismiss my thoughts on Graham, Olsen, and Payne for one more year because there is no urgency. Its also easy to keep Buenning and Williams on the back burner until next offseason. I think Pisa might need to be addressed while we can if he comes out of the gate hot. Just my thoughts.

Sorry, you covered Payne, you can disregard my comments on him! shows how much I pay attention...

I do agree Cutler is the priority, however. Get him now before QB prices go up, again.

Back in 1995, when Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner had a QB named Erik Kramer, the Bears passing game was up to par with the rest of the league for that one season. Kramer went on to have one of the better seasons by a Bear QB throwing for over 3700 yards and 28 td passes. If Turner would have gotten a younger more durable Erik Kramer, he probably would of went on to have a couple pretty good seasons as the Bears offensive coordinator. We'll, now he has a younger, bigger, more durable/ bigger arm QB in Jay Cutler....it's on now baby!!

Jay Cutler will probably come on slow, I say have patience, give him and Turner time. In the end Cutler & Turner should prove to be a nice combo for Chicago. I agree, the Bears should ink Cutler first, probably some time in October.

Out of the other players Biggs listed, I like DT Anthony Adams and SS Kevin Payne the best for possible extensions. I like Adame becaue he's young, has played some good football every time he's gotten a chance, and he adds some pretty nice depth. I like Payne for many of the same reasons, he's young, he's a hard hitter/ tackling machine, and has also played some pretty good football for the Bears. My only question mark with Payne is durability. If Payne can get through this season injury free and continues to be a tackling machine at strong safety, I would definitely ink him next off-season.

One player Biggs did not mention is guard/center Josh Beekman. Beekman might not be the Bears starting left guard this season, but he has proved he can be a pretty good starter and adds nice depth at guard & center. Also, he could have a future as the Bears center. Beekman might be another player worth keeping around. Sorry for the long blog, but I seem to be coming down with a major case of football fever, and heck, I love talking Bear football GO BEARS!!

how about going after Otawgwe the free safety, excellent ball skills, not great in the box however, but at free as opposed to strong, the ball skills would be a welcome addition

and maybe it's time to at least give an interview to matt jones, work him out or something and see what you have, the worst you can say is no after the workout/interview

thanks for the knowledge, i was going off a list from fox sports of the ten best free agents out there and he seemed like a heck of a player, but givin what you just said, i would have to agree with you

The Bears have the room to make moves so that is a good thing. I think however it's too early to start earmarking guys. I would like to get some dirt on the uniforms and a bit into the season before JA starts signing guys to extensions or re-working deals.

If I had to pick one though I would echo Brendan's thoughts: get Jamar Williams an extension and keep a close eye on Pisa Tinoisamoa.

Water under the bridge, but if I were Brian Urlacher I'd read this story and then go fire my agent. He pulled that power play on his contract last year. Yes, he did get his extension, but I don't think he really got that much out of it.

How much better would his name look on the list this year? He probably left some serious money on the table by playing his cards a year too early.

Company people,

Brad brings it when we need it most. We appreciate the work done on a daily basis to keep us fed. Give him a daily column, covering the Bears, that can only be accessed via print in the SunTimes. Pay him to write new and interesting Bear's material that is different than the blog. Make him continue his coverage of the Bears in the blog. Many in town would buy more papers from the stand if we knew we would get Bears coverage upon opening it. Don't see any of the other papers doing this. It's a Bears town.

Just sign Cutler to a 10 year extension with 60 million guarenteed. Give him 10 years and 100 million and front load it so the first 3 years are front loaded with 45 million of it. Would give him respect up front, and the Bears more cap room to build a dominant long term team in the future.

The window is back open for 2 more years. Then there will be 2 years of over turn in the roster as Urlacher, Alex Brown, Ogunleye, Tillman, Vasher, Kreutz, and maybe evern Tommie Harris will need to be replaced (based on of course, the condition of his ailing knee)

This year and next year should be 2 years to savior for us Bear's fans. They need nothing else. Every team in the NFL has their weaknesses. Ours no longer includes quarterback. The Bears will play a majority of their games with an advantage at QB. And the rest of the games (Matt Ryan, McNabb, Roethlisburger, Warner, and Warner), they will have a guy that can match up with the opposing QB play for play.

There are more weapons on this offense than any other Bear's squad I can remember. Hester, Olson, Forte, and Clark. At least 3 young and talented receivers of which one will be good this year. Potentially dominating, and huge offensive line that wil have the capability of mauling opponents who do not stack the box against Cutler. Forte will eat up 7 man fronts after getting used to 8 and 9 man fronts in his rookie year.

The defense will be a top 10 unit again this year because of the offense. Go back and look at the scores of the games. The 4th quarter was where the Bears gave up most of their points. Think Carolina, Tampa, 2nd Minn game, Houston, and Atlanta. All flourished in the 4th when the Bears defense was either tired or "figured out". There will be less total possessions with an offense that can eat up clock. That alone stops shootouts.

Go Bears! No doubting them! They will be dominant this year. 12-4, and the super bowl champs!

Is this adjusted salary cap of 135.9 up from the previous 128.0? Reported by Alex Marvez The NFL's salary cap has risen yet again this offseason.

Teams were informed by the league Wednesday that the 2009 cap is jumping by almost $1 million to $128 million, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told FOXSports.com.

24/7,

I agree, but forget the Sun Times. Brad should start his own Bears paper, I'd buy it (heck, I'd bankroll it if I could afford to). I used to love Don Pierson, he really knew the game, but Brad takes this to a whole new level. Thanks for all you do Brad, the Sun Times better appreciate you.

Re salary cap space, the Bears have plenty and should use it if any help is available. They're in dire need of an experienced wide receiver or two, could use a good free safety, and should get some defensive line help if possible. Come on McKaskeys, Chicago is a big city and there's no excuse for being cheap.

Kevin,

You raised a point I've been making for awhile. Ron Turner is one of the best offensive coordinators in the league. While some of the Bear fans hate him, the fact is that he gets a lot out of nothing every year. Even in 2006, all the Bears had was a good offensive line. Thomas Jones is a very good RB, but he was forced to share time with Cedric Benson, Rex Grossman was shown to be mediocre at best by mid October, and for receivers all the Bears had was a No. 2 trying to be a No. 1 (Mohammed). The people who think Turner is no good either don't understand the game or somehow think that the lousy Bear offensive players are good or great. The best Bear coaches the past several years have been Turner, Dave Toub, and Rusty Jones. I too can't wait to see what Turner can do now that he finally has some talent.

I agree totally with Ryan's comments. Pay Cutler, the main piece according to Mr. Angelo...a-hem. But, after that we have two years of not having to pay a first round unproven draft pick. They do have an older line that will need to be addressed.

And, just off the top of my head. Defense.......Rivera was the man, what was behind the scenes??? But, it has shown since he left, hence the new play calling on defense. Ron Turner...........hmmmm time for a change, everyone else is pass happy and we just plink and dunk......if it doesnt change with Cutler, it has to change somewhere..........

What about D. Manning? He's slated to have an uncanny season at KR. Which means, of course, that the Bears will need the extra money to give him an extension and convert him to a WR.

Kevin armstead & wrigley field bear:Ron Turner is a bumbling bafoon in my book ....he is NOT one of the best O Coord at all where do you get this info? did you happen to see the goofy plays throwing out to a bunch recvr core with cb's all around the ball?throwing to hB's that cant catch?calling off plays that were totally not for the moment? OMG where do you come up with this fantasy?Ron Turner is not one of the best you must b getting him confused with his brother norv....as far as cap room re-sign cutler and b done with it..lets see how they do before we extend thier contracts...

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on July 2, 2009 6:02 AM.

Haves vs. the have nots: What QB has best chance to get his 1st ring? was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears do solid job minimizing wasted space under salary cap is the next entry in this blog.

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