How much salary cap space do the Bears have with new NFL CBA approved?

How much salary cap space do the Bears have with new NFL CBA approved?

The thought around the NFL was the league would see a decent injection of money into 2020’s salary cap after a new CBA was ratified. The NFLPA approved the new CBA, it announced Sunday, but the news doesn’t appear positive for the Bears: 

First and foremost: How much money the Bears actually have in salary cap space is extremely fluid here. Estimates are all over the place — Spotrac has the Bears using $191,085,060 in cap space, though doesn’t have cap hits available for Roy Robertson-Harris (who’s expected to make around $3.3 million) and Danny Trevathan (who has $14 million guaranteed, but isn’t not known what his cap hit is in 2020). So with those the Bears could be awfully close to being up against a $198 million salary cap. 

OverTheCap has the Bears holding about $11 million in cap space while accounting for Robertson-Harris’ contract but not Trevathan’s. Also: OverTheCap still has Kyle Long on the Bears’ books, with an additional $8.1 million in savings due when his contract is removed. The NFLPA’s public salary cap report has the Bears holding $14.6 million in cap space, though there’s not a player-by-player breakdown available to see who's accounted for and who's not.

None of these numbers include increases in player minimum salaries, though. The addition of a 17th game won’t affect cap numbers until the league actually adds it, maybe in 2022. 

The takeaway here should be that the Bears, and probably only the Bears, know exactly how much cap space they have. But if we’re ballparking it, the Bears likely don’t have as much wiggle room as we thought they would with a new CBA being approved. 

But there is good news!

There are ways for the Bears to create cap room, of course, especially seeing as most around the league expect significant salary cap jumps in 2021 and 2022. Signing Allen Robinson to a contract extension would be a start, locking him up for the next few years while lowering his 2020 cap hit from its current $15 million figure. 

The Bears could also aggressively re-structure contracts around their roster, pushing costs into the future when the cap is expected to rise. Per Spotrac, the Bears could create a shade under $22.5 million in cap space by re-structuring the base salaries due to Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, Eddie Goldman and Cody Whitehair, which would make sense if there’s going to be a windfall of cap space hitting in a year or two or three. 

And, too, the Bears could rescind Leonard Floyd’s fifth-year option — which is guaranteed for injury only — and save $13.222 million in 2020 cap space. 

So the Bears have options here, and while their cap number may not look high right now, it could be by the time free agency begins (whenever that will be). 

Matt Nagy: Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles both doing well in Bears virtual meetings

Matt Nagy: Mitch Trubisky, Nick Foles both doing well in Bears virtual meetings

Give the man some credit: Matt Nagy's consistently terrific at saying a lot without saying anything at all. 

Nagy joined Mike Tirico on NBC Sports' Lunch Talk Live series on Wednesday afternoon and gave something resembling an update on the Bears' ongoing QB battle: 

Well what it does is that I think any time you’re dealing with competitions, with any of these players – we actually have several competitions going on with our offense and defense – and certainly at the quarterback position, every rep you get you want it to be valuable. So we’re losing reps right now in the OTAs. We’ll have to get them back in training camp. We’ll be creative into how we do that as a staff. But we’ll make it work, and Mitch and Nick have been great in the classroom and obviously the competition hasn’t started yet over the internet, but they’re excited and we’re looking forward to it. 

Take that for what you will. Any real update on QB1 probably (definitely) won't come until training camp gets under way, whenever that is. For now, we're left with reading tea leaves from short Zoom calls. Sports! You can watch the entire interview, which features more platitudes along with some cooking analysis from the Bears' coach, below:

Here's who Bears fans picked instead of Kevin White in a 2015 NFL Draft redo

Here's who Bears fans picked instead of Kevin White in a 2015 NFL Draft redo

Former Chicago Bears wide receiver Kevin White was Ryan Pace's first-ever first-round pick as the team's general manager way back in the 2015 NFL Draft. It was a selection met with excitement by Bears fans after White dazzled college football in 2014 with a spectacular senior season.

White finished his senior year with the Mountaineers totaling 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. He played like a blend of Larry Fitzgerald and Dez Bryant and jockeyed with now-Cowboys wideout Amari Cooper throughout the 2015 draft cycle to be the first wide receiver drafted. That distinction ultimately went to Cooper, who was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Las Vegas (formerly Oakland) Raiders. Pace chose White three picks later at No. 7 overall.

After four injury-riddled seasons that failed to produce a single regular-season touchdown, the Bears moved on from White in 2019. He later signed with the Cardinals, who released him last August. White is currently out of football. At this point, it's safe to say he is one of the biggest draft busts in franchise history.

NBC Sports Chicago's JJ Stankevitz had an in-depth conversation with White about that bust label. It's a must-read for Bears fans.

It's natural for fans to look back at who their favorite team could've drafted anytime a first-round pick fails to deliver. In the case of the Bears and the 2015 draft, there were several quality players who were picked within 10 selections of White that could've produced at a high level for Chicago had Pace went in another direction.

We decided to run a poll on Twitter asking which of the following players -- who were drafted in the 10 picks after White -- Bears fans would've preferred: Todd Gurley, Anrdus Peat, Marcus Peters or Arik Armstead. The results were pretty surprising:

After nearly 1,400 votes, fans would've preferred Gurley at No. 7 overall.

It's an interesting outcome considering Gurley was available in free agency this year after the Rams released him following two injury-plagued seasons. There was little if any call among Bears fans to sign him. Sure, Gurley enjoyed a pretty remarkable start to his career, but like White, it looks like injuries will impact his long-term sustainability. 

Peters finished second in this poll, but it's surprising he wasn't the first choice. Peters is a two-time All-Pro at one of the most critically important positions in the sport. He's had five or more interceptions in four of his five seasons in the league and would've paired with Kyle Fuller to create one of the most dominant cornerback tandems in the NFL. Peters would've been Pace's best first-round pick as GM and it wouldn't be close.

And how about Peat coming in last by a pretty wide margin? With all the criticism the Bears' offensive line has received this offseason, having a player like Peat entrenched in the starting lineup would certainly be a plus. Peat, a two-time Pro Bowler, has evolved into one of the better interior players in the league.

Surprisingly, Titans edge rusher Vic Beasley, who was chosen by the Falcons one pick after White, received a few votes in the replies. I'm not sure why.

Beasley had a dominant second season in the league when he registered 15.5 sacks in 2016, but he's been an otherwise ineffective player along the lines of Leonard Floyd in every other year of his career. Beasley had a respectable eight sacks in 2019, but that's pretty much his ceiling at this point. And like Gurley, Beasley was available in free agency this year. The Bears, essentially, passed on him twice. And both times, they were right.

Unfortunately, the Bears were wrong with White. Maybe it's more accurate to say injuries prevented White from proving whether Pace was right with his assessment of his upside.