By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) Hard to believe, but Bears training camp starts next month. We’re just 50 days away from the inaugural Camp Trestman, and 95 days away from the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Just like June means beach season around the country, it’s also a month where NFL teams can show off their slimmed down books and shed excess fat from their payroll. Players released after June 1 allow teams to spread the remaining cap liability over the next two seasons.
So, if a player is cut at a position of need for the Bears, will they be players?
As it stands, the Bears are currently $1.77M under the 2013 salary cap.
Recall, if you will, that in the offseason only the top 51 salaries are accounted for. However, once the regular season starts, all 53 contracts plus the contracts of practice squad players count against the cap. So, in reality, when you start projecting forward, the Bears have even less cap space than that to work with.
Let’s follow the money and see how the Bears have allocated the majority of their $123M budget.
The Bears have spent $99M (81% of their cap) on 20 players. The top-5 salary cap figures include marquee names: Julius Peppers ($16.183M), Jay Cutler ($10.137M), Brandon Marshall ($9.3M), franchise tag designee Henry Melton ($8.45M), and Charles Tillman ($8M). In summary, 51% of their cap is spent on defense, 42% on offense, and 7% on special teams.
With 11 of the projected 22 starters playing on one-year contracts – including quarterback Jay Cutler – and $85M already committed to the 2014 salary cap, the Bears have a litany of decisions to make about the future of the franchise this coming season.
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