Mike Brez

(Oct. 20, 2018 – Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

With the combine excitement just starting to wrap up, a lot of eyes are focused toward the draft. What the end of the combine sparks for me is the franchise tag deadline is here and it’s free agency season! Finally, the Christmas time of the NFL is here once more. The Combine is a absolute breeding ground for trade and free agency rumors. Although it’s “illegal” to discuss free agents until the “legal” tampering time, its rampant and normal. So when GM’s like Ryan Pace say they have a plan, most do. Pace is slick, he plays the nice guy role so well people miss his mastery of misdirection. He’s doing something to throw people off the scent of his plan. If you read or hear some news on what Pace is trying to do, just know he wanted people to hear it.

Over the recent years, the Bears have been in a free agency gun fight. With little needs this year, that won’t be the case. One thing we can take from Pace and common sense, is we need to build through the draft. Now, it’s as important as ever because with so many good players on the team, you can’t pay everyone. Bears need cheep rookie contracts who come in to take over for aging, expensive vets.

Bears have 5 draft picks for the 2019 NFL Draft, starting in the late third round. When you consider what Pace and his band of scouts have done in recent drafts, the later rounds should still excite you. The Bears will also be very invested in the UDFA market shortly after the draft. With Chicago being a desired destination currently, expect the Bears to clamp on to some of the better names this year.

If you need a refresher on the Bears current state click here for my State of the Union article

With that said, lets jump straight in.

Cap  space:

The NFL cap ceiling has now been set for each team at 188.2 million dollars, a little short of what was expected. More would of been more ideal for the Bears, not less.

$188,200,000 million

+$3,600,000 million in 2018 Bears cap space roll over

$191,800,000 2019 Cap ceiling for the Bears in 2019

-$683,605 dead money

$191,116,395

-$181,000,000 is approximately what the Bears have out in existing contracts

$11,116,395 left in open cap space.

Chicago currently has 51 players on the team. The rule of 51 will be in effect as we add players to the draft. What that means is, lets say you add a player who’s cap hit is $1,000,000 for 2019. That would push off the lowest paid player from the team’s cap hit, which is currently $495,000. So, the cap hit added to the roster will be $505,000, not $1,000,000. When the Bears add in their 3rd rd pick, a cap of around $1,000,000. The actual cap hit of it, as it reflects to the bottom line will be about half that. It pushes a 500k contract already accounted for off the cap line. $2,982,699 would be the cap space needed to sign the Bears 2019 draft class. But, when you account for rule 51, the draft cap hit will be closer to $1,300,000.

So lets use that figure now:

$11,116,395 left in open cap space.

-$1,300,000 for draft class

$9,816,395 in cap space for free agency

Taking care of our own:

ERFAs Coward, Irving and Roy Robertson-Harris are no brainers at a $645,000 tender.

$9,666,395 in cap space left

(Aug. 29, 2018 – Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

Josh Bellamy $1,400,000

Daniel Brown $805,000

Ben Braunecker $720,000

Michael Burton $805,000

Patrick Scales $720,000

Pat O’Donnell $1,105,000 ($300,000 signing bonus that will be dead if he’s cut prior to season starting)

DeAndre Houston-Carson $970,000 ($250,000 signing bonus that will be dead if he’s Cut prior to season)

Nicholas Williams $805,000

Brain Witzmann $805,000

(Sept. 22, 2018 – Source: Norm Hall/Getty Images North America)

Bryce Callahan- 4 year $28,000,000/$17,000,000 Guranteed. With escalators to bring contract to be worth $36,000,000. 2019 cap hit $5,000,000

$2,481,728 left in cap space to enter the open free agent market, 65 players on team. Bears can add some cap back in final cuts, releasing vet mins and going with UDFAs/draft picks on the 53 man roster. $1-2 million possible there to regain.

Convert Mack dollars- Mack is going no where soon and he’s a true professional. That means its time to convert his salary into roster bonus. Giving Mack a vet minimum salary and adding +$11,596,000(per OTC) to the Bears cap room

 

Kyle Long Pay cut- although numbers are not out, looks like the Bears will get +$3,000,000 in cap relief from his restructure

$17,077,728 in available cap space for free agency

Going off Pace’s words and past moves, I feel he will cover his bases on fair deals early. That will allow him to draft true to Best player available. After the draft, another wave of left over free agents and cut Vets will start where he can get steals.

(Sept. 12, 2018 – Source: John Grieshop/Getty Images North America)

Maxx Williams-  gives the Bears what they thought they had in Dion Sims. All Around good run Blocker, pass blocker and pass catcher. 3 years/$11,000,000 $6,5000,000 Guaranteed. 2019 cap hit $2,500,000

 

 

Cordarrelle Patterson- If you can’t beat em hire em! Patterson has been lackluster as a first round draft pick overall, but not when it’s came to playing the Bears. If not in the air or the ground, then in Kick returns. Patterson was the difference in the loss to the patriots and kick returner is also a weakness in Chicago. Two birds one stone. Gives Nagy a toy to play with who can run the ball inside out, catch the ball and is a dynamic kick returner. He allows the Bears to be very fluid in the draft and great depth. 3 years/$10,000,000 $5,000,000 Guaranteed. 2019 cap hit $3,000,000

John Simon- I’d really like the Bears to add a dynamic pass rusher to back up Mack and Floyd, but it looks like that just isn’t in the cards. John Simon knows Pagano and his system, that could help. Simon won’t blow you away but, he’s solid and be at a value. 2 years/ $5,500,000 $3,500,000 guaranteed 2019 cap hit $2,500,000

(Sept. 15, 2018 – Source: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America)

Adrain Phillips- Phillips has been ascending his entire career. Always a special teams ace(all-pro), he’s also a jack of all trades in the secondary. He can play FS, SS, and NCB. Very similar to Bears new secondary coach DeShea Townsend. Again, this allows the Bears to be Fluid in the draft. If they draft a safety who ends up taking over at starting strong safety, Phillips is worth the money as special teams gunner and back up everything. 3 years $10,250,000/$5,750,000 guaranteed, 2019 cap hit $3,250,000

Kai Forbath- The hope will be the Bears can find a young, long term kicker this offseason. But, They are going to need a Vet in camp. Forbath fits the bill coming in at league minimum. 1 year $805,000

Thinking Ahead: Time to extend Cody Whitehair now, spread a couple million of signing bonus over on this year. Adding 3 years/30 million $14,000,00 guaranteed to his existing contract. 2019 cap hit $3,344,181

$1,644,681 is now left after initial free agency and Whitehair Extension. This Leaves the Bears with only worrying About 2020 cap room for Leonard Floyd and Danny  Trevathan. Which the Bears have a Sufficient amount of Cuts to field.

Bears can now at final cuts before the season cut, vet minimum players making room for UDFAs, saving around $1,000,000

$2,644,681is now your season entering cap room

What moves could be done to add more to this cap space?

Nick Kwaitkowski, if the Bears feel they could move on from him they could add $1,500,000 back in cap space.

Jordan Howard, Trading Howard would also free up the same amount of space, around $1,500,000.

Heading to the draft- with the above scenario the Bears are well suited to go in any which direction in the draft. However, thinking ahead I’d like to see Kyle Long’s, Trey Burton’s, Taylor Gabriel’s, Prince Amukamara’s and Danny Trevathan’s replacements start to enter the fold. Probably all positions most people are not mocking to the Bears. Using fairness to the process I am going to use The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine

3rd round- Darnell Savage S Maryland– Savage tore up the combine and is no doubt running up draft boards. But, we will keep in mind he is better suited at SS than FS and will effect his stock. If he or Darnell Henderson are there, they are the pick.

4th round- David Long CB Michigan- Long checked a lot of boxes at the combine  he needed to, including the best 3 cone drill. He could play inside or out and his best ball is ahead of him

5th round- Max Sharping OG NIU- as far as The Draft Network’s board goes, I reached a bit on this. But, in reality I think you are lucky to get him hear. OT at NIU he’s just a perfect fit at RG in the NFL. Full time starter in 2020, could play in 2019

7th round- Bryce Love RB Stanford- I’m not a huge Bryce love guy, but the value is here for a burst guy. Dropped over injury, struggles with vision, but in a RBBC he could have his place.

7th round- Tony Pollard RB Memphis- Pollard is a great utilitarian back, catches balls as much as carries. Good to play both ways on special teams, a good hatchet man for Nagy to replace Mizzell with.

Days after the draft:

The Bears will be one of the busiest teams post draft hauling in UDFA’s and stealing aging vets on league minimum deals chasing a ring. No matter the Draft results, know that the Bears will be adding nice talent after the initial free agency and NFL Draft