Bill Barwell at ESPN approves of the Bears signing inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Barnwell points out that the Bears not only helped themselves a great deal at the position, but that the contracts had some specific cap implications.
“No team has made a bigger upgrade at one position than the Bears have at inside linebacker this offseason, and with oodles of cap space available, [general manager Ryan] Pace has wisely placed large roster bonuses in each player’s 2016 compensation to retain flexibility in future years. If Freeman doesn’t look like the guy who called the shots for Indy, they can move on with just $2 million in dead money next year. The Bears will have $12.1 million committed on their cap to inside linebackers this year, the fifth-highest total in the NFL at the moment.”
The Bears have remained conservative in terms of front loading contracts for some years now. Part of that is because they want to remain flexible in future years to meet contract demands as needed.
One of the players who will be up for a big future deal is guard Kyle Long, who technically becomes a free agent after 2016 but who will certainly have his fifth year option picked up by the team. The Bears will try hard to resign Long to a contract extension before the 2017 season rather than let him become a free agent.
Even after signing Long and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who one hopes will sign a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline to do so, the Bears will have plenty of space to work with for some time to come. They will hope that they will eventually be using that space to re-sign their own draft picks rather than trying to build a team with players that other teams let get away.