Now that the Super Bowl is over, the Chicago Bears’ thoughts now run to improving for next season. The first step to that comes up on March 11, the first day of the new league year and the start of free agency.
The Bears at this moment have an estimated $5.5 million in cap money to spend. That is not a lot of money to make a splash and improve their porous defense.
There are cuts the team can make to free up some space.
1. Julius Peppers
Cutting Peppers would save the Bears $9.816 million.
Peppers represents the biggest cap hit on the Bears other than Jay Cutler with his new deal. He had an off-year in 2013, and is 34. There are some good edge rushers that will be on the market that are younger than Peppers.
I like Peppers and it would be nice to keep him, but only if he restructures his contract and takes a huge pay cut. He will have to decide how much more he wants to play. If he is cut, there will not be many suitors for an aging pass rusher who might be on the downside of his career.
2. Earl Bennett
Cutting Bennett would save the Bears $2.45 million.
Bennett had been considered one of the Bears’ surest-handed receivers, but that was before Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery came to town. Bennett still has great hands, but his legs leave much to be desired. He made 44 catches, but averaged only 7.6 yards per catch.
Of all the players who had at least 40 catches, only four had fewer yards than Bennett. Of those four, only one of them was a wide receiver. Yes, Cutler trusts him, but the results just do not warrant keeping him.
3. Chris Conte
Cutting Conte would save the Bears $1.389 million.
What could I say about Conte? He became the face of the Bears failure on defense. He just had his worst season, and was the guy who blew the coverage that gave the Green Bay Packers the division title. If he comes back, the fans will revolt.
4. Adam Podlesh
Cutting Podlesh would save the Bears $1.025 million.
Podlesh struggled this season with his punting. Out of 34 punters in the league, he ranked 28th in net average yards.
The Bears brought in Drew Butler late in the season, and now expect him to compete with Podlesh for the spot. If Butler can show good ability, he has a leg up, as he is the son of Bears legendary kicker Kevin Butler.
Podlesh may see the signing as the signal of his imminent release.
These cuts free up a total of $14.68 million. Add that to the amount already available and the total comes out to over $20 million. That should be enough to get quality talent.
Are there other players that should be cap casualties? Let me know in the comment section below.