One of the prizes in the Bears' preconceived war chest included over $100 million in cap space to freely use in free agency this offseason. While still projected to have the most cap space in the league, Over the Cap projects the Bears' budget around $92 million for the future.
OTC's Jason Fitzgerald explained the reasoning behind the changes, noting the addition of incentives from the past season and futures contracts taking up the bulk of the debits.
"This week we also began adding the futures contracts which have been signed so far," Fitzgerald wrote. "This is where the bulk of the cap changes came from. In the modern NFL teams no longer carry large rosters year over year so there are big changes in roster size from the end of the regular season (or when a playoff team is eliminated) to the first week of the offseason.
"For the most part, teams will sign most of their practice squad players to a “futures” contract and those numbers are now much bigger thanks to the 2020 CBA which finally saw the minimum salaries rise for inexperienced players," Fitzgerald wrote about the futures contracts side of the decrease.
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Surely, the jargon is difficult to explain, but accounting for incentives in players' contracts and taking into account the increased minimum salary for practice squad players is part of the reasoning for the decrease. In total, it's still safe to say the Bears have plenty of money to work with.
The Bears' $92 million is projected $36 million more than the second-place Atlanta Falcons. For reference, Spotrac also decreased their numbers, predicting the Bears to have ~$98 million in cap space this offseason.
Despite not having the ~$100-$120 million most prognosticated the Bears to have this offseason, it's objective to chalk up $92 million as a plethora of money to use this offseason. Likely, they won't be able to blow all their money in one summer and will roll over a lump sum to future offseasons.