Mike Mulligan at the Chicago Tribune highlights the amount of cap space taken up by players no longer on the Bears:
“Jared Allen, now playing with the Panthers, is the second-highest cap hit on the team at $11.7 million. Brandon Marshall, catching touchdowns for the Jets, is the eighth biggest hit at $5.6 million-plus. Tim Jennings, playing for the Buccaneers, counts $4.4 million. The Bears have more than $25 million in dead cap space, led by those players.”
That is, indeed, a lot and if I’m the owner of the Bears I can’t be happy at spending that kind of money in that kind of way. Mulligan’s point that you can’t buy a good football team is well taken and I’m sure everyone who is reading this doesn’t need to hear again about how the Bears need to build through the draft from here on out. I realize that the McCaskey’s want to win as soon as possible but you can actually do that through the annual selection process if you have someone who is doing the drafting who knows what they are doing.
What I do want to do is point out that there is some good news here. Former general manager Phil Emery made a lot of mistakes but one he didn’t make was sewing these guys up with long-term cap implications. The Bears have all of this dead space this year because they were in a position to release those players. Yes, the cap space hurts but they still did it without totally crippling the team.
All of these players are off the books next year which means that the Bears are going to have more than the usual amount of cap space to work with in January. What they do with that space will be very interesting to see. Certainly they’ll want to pay their own. Here’s hoping they don’t blow the rest on long-term free agent contracts of the type that could have caused even more damage than we saw this year.