How Much Will the Bears Cash Budget Affect What They Do in Free Agency?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

“I know that the Bears have a great deal of cap space to play with this offseason. But it was always my understanding that more cap space can always be made available in the NFL if you really want to do it and that it was the cash budget that is often what determines who you can sign and who you can’t. Do you think that could be a limiting factor for the Bears this offseason? — Tom S., Chicago

“Excellent observation. While cap figures for each team are readily available, what’s never known is the cash budget each team is operating with during a given league year. With nearly $100 million in available cap space for 2023, Ryan Poles has more room than he can realistically use, especially when you consider it’s not expected to be a banner year for free agents.

“I would expect Poles to have enough of a cash budget to accomplish pretty much anything he wants to do. The Bears have gone light the last two years and have not shied away from throwing around big money under George McCaskey. They went heavy in free agency in 2018 and then made the biggest move of that year by trading for and extending the contract of outside linebacker Khalil Mack. My guess is the Mack move might have taken them over their cash budget for that season, but presented with a special circumstance, ownership signed off on what was the largest contract for a defensive player in league history at the time.”

I tend to agree with Biggs on this. As far as I can tell the cash budget has never kept the Bears from spending money where they felt like they needed to and there’s no reason to believe that this offseason will be an exception.

Having said that it’s not my money.

Personally I would prefer that the Bears spend a lot of the money in free agency on contracts that are front-loaded with guaranteed money. This frees that cap space that you are spending back up more quickly for future free agents.

But that means lots of cash up front. I could hardly blame the Bears for wanting to spread the cash hit to the budget out over more years.

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