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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?


Bears president Ted Phillips and general manager Jerry Angelo were clear about one thing at the start of the offseason--any tightening of the belt at Halas Hall in the wake of the economic downturn was not going to have an effect on the football budget and how they do business.

Phillips made the point in February when discussing the organization's decision to freeze ticket prices at Soldier Field. Angelo echoed those sentiments later that month at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Fast forward to mid-May and the Bears have $20.8 million remaining under the salary cap according to figures obtained by the Sun-Times on Monday. That makes them one of six teams in the league with more than $20 million available. It was announced last week that a final adjustment to the salary camp for 2009 raised it to $127.997 million. The Bears' adjusted cap for this season is $135.9 million, the result of a number of factors, including the Marcus Hamilton likely-to-be-earned incentive that gave the club a credit from last season.

Here are the top six in terms of available space:

Tampa Bay $37 million
Kansas City $31.8 million
Green Bay $29.4 million
San Francisco $26.4 million
Philadelphia $23.1 million
Bears $20.8 million

So, the question is what do to with the money? Angelo recently joked that it's not like he has a $20 bill burning a hole through his pocket. He was asked directly about the possibility of some extensions on Sunday at the team's fan expo.

"I think we were unprecedented in terms of all the people we did extensions with,'' Angelo said of last year. ``So in part that made fewer players come up, but those that do well, we'll definitely do what we've always done in the past. I've always said this, 'They take care of their business and business takes care of itself.'''

The Bears were so pro-active in signing players who were coming out of contract last year that there really are not that many to choose from. We detailed the list of free-agents-to-be in discussing the ramifications of an uncapped year here.

The Bears will announce today that season-ticket prices will not increase for 2009. The club has been holding internal meetings for some time to map out the coming year, and a big part of the budgeting process is determining how much revenue will be generated through ticket sales. The Bears joined roughly three-quarters of the league, according to commissioner Roger Goodell, in keeping their prices level.

Soldier Field is the smallest stadium in the league (the Colts used to be 32nd before moving into Lucas Oil Stadium) and that limits the ability of the club to collect money. The Bears ranked eighth last year in average ticket price. When you factor in fewer seats, that put them closer to the middle of the pack in terms of total ticket revenue generated.

Bears president Ted Phillips discussed the decision, issues related to it and some more football. Here is a Q&A:


TP: We've typically increased prices every year, some years more than others just to be able to keep our ticket revenue in the middle of the pack given that our capacity is small. So, a year ago I would say to you that we were anticipating increasing ticket prices again. And frankly it's really no more complicated than taking a look at the very challenging economic environment that every fan, every person in America is facing. It's not not just a down economic year, it's an unprecedented situation that has huge impact on every citizen and we felt for that reason it was the right thing to do.

After raising ticket prices in at least some manner for eight straight years, the Bears will freeze their prices for 2009.

In light of a struggling economy, the club decided that it was the best strategy even as occupants of the smallest stadium in the 32-team league. The Bears average ticket price was eighth in the league last season.

``Frankly, it's really no more complicated than taking a look at the very challenging economic environment that every fan, every person in America is facing,'' team president Ted Phillips said. ``It's not not just a down economic year, it's an unprecedented situation that has huge impact on every citizen and we felt for that reason it was the right thing to do.''

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