Bears coach Lovie Smith has spoken very highly of running back Kahlil Bell.
But on Monday, the Bears tendered the minimum qualifying offer to Bell, a restricted free agent, at a cost of $1.26 million. For about $700,000 more, the Bears could have placed a second-rounder tender on Bell. That way, if another club signed Bell, they'd have to concede a second-round pick.
Would another team do that for Bell? Most likely not. But, as it stands, the Bears would get nothing if another team signs Bell now. It appears the Bears want to let other teams set the market for Bell, since they haven't made any headway toward a longer term deal with him.
But, the $1.26 million tender does allow the Bears to match any offer from another club.
The highest tender for a restricted free requires a first-round compensation worth $2.74 million.
So what of Marion Barber's future? He's due a $1.9 million base salary next season. But, he doesn't have any roster bonuses due or anything, so the Bears can cut him at any point before the regular season opener. At this juncture, he seems likely to be released, which would cost the Bears about $250,000 in dead money.