By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) — When J’Marcus Webb was demoted to a backup last week, he immediately became overpaid, especially for a team up against the cap.
Due over $1.3 million this year, one could only wonder if he might be cut, especially after offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer admitted Webb was fighting for a spot on the roster.
The problem with cutting Webb, however, is that he would immediately become the best offensive lineman on the free agent market and the Bears still graded him out as an NFL level starter for most of last season.
But when third-string quarterback Matt Blanchard fractured a knuckle on his left hand Thursday and the Bears were forced to sign another quarterback, their lack of cap space became a problem. After originally signing Jordan Palmer over the weekend, they also added Trent Edwards a day later and the second signing came on the same day the Chicago Tribune reported that Webb took a pay cut of more than 50 percent.
Per the report, Webb’s salary went from $1.323 million to $630,000, giving the Bears an initial cap savings of $693,000. Webb can still earn the lost money back thru playing time incentives, adding urgency to the offensive tackle who so far hasn’t seemed all that motivated in a contract year.
And that’s why this pay cut is a no-brainer — for both sides.
The Bears save cap space right away and there’s still a chance Webb will provide some value this season.
Webb had absolutely no leverage and still gets an opportunity to earn the $1.323 million. If he hadn’t accepted the pay cut, he could have been cut and would have had to sign elsewhere for the fourth-year rookie minimum anyway.
Of course, none of this guarantees Webb will still make the team. He’s essentially battling Eben Britton and Jonathan Scott right now for the final two offensive line roster spots. Scott has missed most of training camp with a bad knee, but could return this week. If healthy, he may have the edge over Britton and Webb just because he might be the only guy the Bears trust to backup Jermon Bushrod at left tackle.
Let the battle begin.
What To Make Of Palmer And Edwards
Before Blanchard got hurt, there seemed to be momentum towards keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. And now that the Bears have signed two more quarterbacks to create a competition for the third spot, there’s still evidence indicating they’d like three quarterbacks.
Of course, it’s important to remember that depending on the seriousness of Blanchard’s injury, which is on his non-throwing hand, he could always end up on the practice squad and provide insurance later in the season.
As for Palmer and Edwards, they’re only competing for the third quarterback role. The coaching staff really likes Josh McCown and he’s looked pretty capable in training camp.
Meanwhile, a number of people have asked about JaMarcus Russell. Well, Palmer, Edwards and Russell all worked out at Halas Hall earlier this year. The Bears signed two of them and Russell was not one of them.
There’s your answer.
– Dan Bernstein is urging Jay Cutler to simply run the play.
– Steve Silverman says Kyle Long is among the top preseason standouts.
– And just for your viewing pleasure, here’s Jon Bostic’s hit from Thursday night again.
– The Bears return to newly renovated Halas Hall for the first time this season. Practice starts at 1:30.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.