Chicago Sun-Times

Salary cap: How did the Bears get here?

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A few thoughts from me on my package about the Chicago Bears salary cap health. Yes, they are not in optimal position.

But, truth be told, the Bears really couldn't avoid the situation.

After advancing to Super Bowl XLI during the 2006 NFL season, the Bears had every reason to lock up the likes of Brian Urlacher, Tommie Harris, Lance Briggs and the team's two cornerbacks, as well as the dynamic and multi-faceted Devin Hester.

Those defensive players were key to a unit that ranked first in the NFL with 44 take-aways and fifth overall.

Yet since then, regardless of the reasons, only Briggs has continued to produce at an elite level.

The league executives I spoke to both told me that general manager Jerry Angelo and chief contract negotiator Cliff Stein have done a solid job with the deals they've doled out. While the numbers for some of these players are high, they were market-value contracts that were necessary to retain them.

Believe me, general managers and contract negotiators aren't afraid to rip their colleagues for bad deals that ultimately hurt everyone, such as the seven-year, $50.5 million contract the Oakland Raiders handed -- literally handed! -- underachieving defensive tackle Tommy Kelly in 2008. That deal included $18 million in guarantees, or about $1 million for each of his sacks in six NFL seasons.

The Bears are in a tough spot, and it's easy to second-guess them now, after three consecutive seasons out of the playoffs.

But imagine the uproar had the Bears NOT re-signed the likes of Tommie Harris, Brian Urlacher, Devin Hester and Lance Briggs.

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15 Comments

I would agree except for Urlacher. I think he should have been dumped when he insisted on a new contract instead of honoring the one he had. I do not think the team missed him all that much, although I'm sure many would not agree.The fill-ins did a pretty solid job at linebacker. The defensive line was the reason the opposing quarterback could stand back and pick apart the Bear secondary and line backer coverages.

The Bears need to dump some players. I get that. But this will be a successful offseason if they do 3 things.

1. Get Brandon Marshall/Anquan Boldin
2. Get the best run blocking offensive lineman available
3. Lock Gaines Adams in the weight room.

If they do these 3 things, we will go to the Super Bowl next year.

what is their total cap number heading into 2010?

if there is in fact no salary cap in '10, this means the cap floor (everyone focuses on the ceiling) goes away as well. thus it will be an opportunity to dump some high priced & under-performing vets (nathan vasher comes to mind).

I had no problem with the deals Urlacher, Harris, Hester, or especially Briggs got. And I agree, can you imagine how bad the Bears would be without these guys?

I think Urlacher was missed, the unit should be better with him in the lineup this fall. Tommie Harris seemed to look a little better as the year went on, hopefully he can get back to form. As far as Lance Briggs, hands down the leagues best weak side backer, you can't argue with 5 straight pro-bowls, system or not.

As for Hester, if used correctly, he could still be a heck of a weapon. With the emergence of Devin Aromashodu, should allow Chicago to stick Hester in the slot, and use him as the primary kick & punt return man. If Hester could become the return man he was early in his career, this would help the Bears offense more than he does as a full-time receiver. And yes, Aromashodu should start next season, its no coincidence that with Aromashodu in the lineup, Cutler had back to back 4 td pass games, just an opinion GO BEARS!!

The Bears need better management. Elite teams sign players all the time and balance their books. The Dallas Cowboys in a short span signed DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Jason Witten, and are about to sign Mile Austin to a new deal-if they can balance their books and still sign elite players then the Bears can too. Urlacher had become injury prone when he signed that new deal so they actually could've done without his services. People would've been mad but they would've gotten over it. They could sign Hester BUT that doesn't mean he should've gotten in the way of an elite receiver-balance. Their problems are due to years of neglect and now they can't fix it right now. NO punt returner is more important than paying for a o-line person or elite receiver to compliment a qb. We have our priorities wrong-teams with great offensive talent don't rely on kick returns to score touchdowns, rather they rely on the offensive weapons they pay for. In short, people like Wayne, Fitzgerald, Boldin, Austin, and Marshall are MORE important than a punt returner-you can find one all the time. Try finding a player like Jason Witten or Dallas Clark-that's HARD. The bears need to get it together fast.

Those contracts had to be paid. We complain about the lack of talent on the roster now, can you imagine letting one of these guys go at that time? What people need to remember was this team was built for defense and special teams. Past decisions on personnel and contracts have been heavily influenced by this. The O-line has been an area where we have been aging for quite some time. As far as surrounding a QB with a #1 WR, we just got our #1 QB. Philosophy is not changing - personnel decisions have to follow. I'm not saying I agree with all personnel moves - actually question most of them that I believe helped put us in this spot:
Marc Columbo (why not give him a chance to actually play for the money?) Chris Harris (still to this day don't get that move) Thomas Jones (WTF? Move our best player & a true pro for what. All because we drafted a RB because of it's "value" at that #4 spot -BS! Not bringing back Brown for another year (I forgot, we're loaded at safety); Drafting Bazuin & Wolfe so high - was anyone else going to pull the trigger on these guys before the 4th round...seriously? There are a few others...not even going to start with the QB's.

only one that does anything is Lance Briggs. I say get ride of the rest.

Instead of signing Hester, they should have traded him. His value was never going to be higher than it was at that point; we all knew he would never be good enough to justify the contract he was demanding.

They should also have never signed Harris or Urlacher to new contracts while those players were coming off major injuries. You should always say to such players -- we want to see if you are the same player you were before the injury. If you are, we'll pay everything you ask. If not, we'll still pay you a little more than another team will, because you played well for us in the past, but not what you're asking, because you're no longer the same player.

Neither Harris nor Urlacher has been the same player they were before the injury. Would they have been if they had the incentive of rehabbing to get a big contract, instead of knowing they already had money in the bank? It's hard to say, but in Harris' case at least, the signs suggest he could have used the extra motivation.

Signing up your young talent early is always a gamble, but it's easy in hindsight to see that Vasher had a fortunate season with a lot of interceptions and was never worthy of the Pro Bowl moniker. Tillman, on the other hand, has been one of the team's best.

Here's to at least a couple more years of a 7-9 record at best. How many times can we keep changing assistant coaches and getting the same result, all the while only HOPING for improvement!? All the talk is about retooling the offense.....the O was bad, but the D was even worse. I like Lovie a lot as a person Heck, he can take my kid to the zoo or something, but he need not coach my Bears anymore. For that matter, Angelo need not be GM anymore either. Shame on Ted Phillips and/or the McCaskey's. Why is it EVERY player who leaves Chicago in the Lovie era (not just this year with Orton and Benson) does better elsewhere? Why is it we shuffle people through positions and can't get any continuity (especially the secondary)? Why is it 9 out of 10 times on D the CB's give a 10 yard cushion regardless of down and distance? Why is it on 3rd on long I can take to the bank another conversion by the opponent? I even know how it will go. Two options: 1; 7 yard pass in the middle with plenty of room to run for the 1st. You know, the area where the linebackers usually are but they're falling back deep in Lovie's beloved cover-2 scheme. 2; about a 15 yard pass right on the one of the hashmarks for a first down. Everybody knows the holes of the cover 2 and we don't have the insane amount of pressure needed for it's success. Why is it the team repeatedly makes dumb penalties and/or plays at inopportune times? Why is it Lovie has lost the locker room? Why is it future Hall of Fame and well-respected players are saying the problem with the Bears goes higher than just the coaches? Why is it every year we get hit so hard with injuries (it can't be a coincidence anymore)? Why is it that every other organization in the league sees the Bears as a wounded fawn? And why is it the Bears Brass sees none of this?!?!?!?

Q- I agree with all 3. Especially #3. Gaines Adams need to gain like 20-30 pounds. He looks like a 6'4 giraffe out there, have you seen a neck longer than that? He looks like he could be Merton Hanks brother.

Anyways, very happy Turner and his crew of D-Bags are gone. Now lets get someone who won't call a screen pass 2 plays in a row. REALLY!

GO BEARS!!!

Devin Hester is the biggest waste of money in Bears history! They do not need him! Look what happened when he was off injured. Our return team is just fine with both Knox, D. Manning and Bennett and we might have found our "true" #1 WR in Aromashodu! Cut or trade him now!

let's face it, the bears will NEVER be an elite team. we can all sit around and wish about who they'll sign but in the end they won't get anything.

the owners are terrible. yeah i know 2010 will probably be an uncapped year and that means that all free agents now will be restricted, which means we'd have to cough up a 1st and 3rd round pick for somebody like brandon marshall.

but we don't have any

unless the players union and owners can make a deal, we might as well forget about any impact free agents. so basically we'll be looking though the scap heap and hope we can find somebody good but what's new.

well i look forward to 2011 because maybe by then ownership might take a serious look at bill cowher

2010- worthless free agents, worthless draft picks
same old bears............

The main issue is not paying people it's drafting them. This draft is a first day lockout, but on the second day draft the best linemen thats for both sides and the best RB availible. The remaining players would look good with some big uglies on both sides of the ball. On defense a run-stuffer should be #1 priority and #2 priority should be a road-grading guard. You have recievers now give the QB a chance to hit some of them Aromashodu, Inglesias, Knox and Bennett is a good core. It's easy to have hindsight, it's hard to have foresight and common sense in drafting no more reaches like Wolfe, Bauzin and Okwo and they will be all right.

Ive been a die-hard Bears fan all my life . In these times in order to put the best product on the field you have to spend money ! If our current owners the Mcaskeys werent so frivolus with the almighty dollar we wouldnt be in this situation period ! So quit blaming the players coaches ! Its 2010 lets all wake up and smell the coffee.

The Bears need better management. Elite teams sign players all the time and balance their books. The Dallas Cowboys in a short span signed DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, Jason Witten, and are about to sign Mile Austin to a new deal-if they can balance their books and still sign elite
uggs outlet storesplayers then the Bears can too. Urlacher had become injury prone when he signed that new deal so they actually could've done without his services. People would've been mad but they would've gotten over it. They could sign Hester BUT that doesn't mean he should've gotten in the way of an elite receiver-balance. Their problems are due to years of neglect and now they can't fix it right now. NO punt returner is more important than paying for a o-line person or elite receiver to compliment a qb. We have our priorities wrong-teams with great offensive talent don't rely on kick returns to score touchdowns,
uggs outlet rather they rely on the offensive weapons they pay for. In short, people like Wayne, Fitzgerald, Boldin, Austin, and Marshall are MORE important than a punt returner-you can find one all the time. Try finding a player like Jason Witten or Dallas Clark-that's HARD. The bears need to get it together fast.

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This page contains a single entry by Sean Jensen published on January 5, 2010 9:11 AM.

The dollars and sense of Pace was the previous entry in this blog.

Colts assistant could be good fit as D Coordinator is the next entry in this blog.

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