By Dan Durkin
(CBS) Rookie minicamp kicks off Friday at Halas Hall, providing the coaching staff their first glimpse of the newest crop of Bears on the practice field. Off the field, Bears chief contract negotiator Cliff Stein has been his usual efficient self, already reaching agreements with five of the Bears’ six selections (only Kyle Long is unsigned).
The new rookie compensation pool has streamlined the on-boarding process league-wide. All rookie deals are four years in length, the minimum salary amount for 2013 is $405K, there’s a floor and ceiling for the first-year cap number, and a limit on the total contract value of each pick.
From 2012 to 2013, the salary cap increased by 1.99 percent — from $120.6M to $123M. Instead of just multiplying last year’s contract value by this growth percentage, the NFL has essentially frozen bonus amounts. This ensures there’s no disparity between identically slotted players other than the increase in minimum salary amount.
I can hear you now: “Enough of the semantics and math mumbo-jumbo, nerdlinger, get to the good stuff!” So without further ado, here’s a projection of the total contract values, signing bonuses, and first year cap hits for the Bears’ 2013 draft class:
Round 1 (20th overall): Kyle Long | OG | Oregon – $8.3M total value, $4.417M signing bonus, and a $1.5M cap hit in 2013.
Round 2 (50th overall): Jon Bostic | LB | Florida – $3.9M total value, $1.246M signing bonus, and a $716K cap hit in 2013.
Round 4 (117th overall): Khaseem Greene | LB | Rutgers – $2.59M total value, $432K signing bonus, and a $513K cap hit in 2013.
Round 5 (163rd overall): Jordan Mills | OT | Louisiana Tech – $2.324M total value, $164K signing bonus, and a $446K cap hit in 2013.
Round 6 (188th overall): Cornelius Washington | DE | Georgia – $2.263M total value, $103K signing bonus, and a $431K cap hit in 2013.
Round 7 (236th overall): Marquess Wilson | WR | Washington State – $2.2M total value, $47K signing bonus, and a $416K cap hit in 2013.
This brings the total 2013 cap hit of the Bears draft class to just over $4M.
However, recall if you will, my piece that explains the mechanics of the salary cap. In the offseason, only the top 51 salaries are accounted for. Thus, as it currently stands, only Long and Bostic’s contracts will figure into the top 51. Add their cap values together – $2.21M – and subtract the two $555K contracts they’ll replace – $1.11M – and the net effect to the offseason cap is $1.1M.
When general manager Phil Emery says the Bears are “right up against the cap” he’s being fairly truthful. With June 1 cuts just a few weeks away, should a player pique their interest, the Bears will have right around $2M of free cap space available.
The goals of the 2013 draft were two-fold: to potentially find one immediate starter on each side of the ball, and to bolster depth by acquiring younger, cheaper talent. This weekend will be the first chance to see if Emery was successful in achieving his objectives.
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