Chicago Bears Facing Potential Contract Issues in 2013 and 2014
While Bears fans are waiting for the results of the Matt Forte contract negotiations to settle one way or the other, ESPN's John Clayton is reporting that the Bears have more projected starters with expiring contracts in 2013 and 2014 than any other NFL team.
That's certainly no reason to step out on a steep ledge, Bears fans, but it will be a strong test of how GM Phil Emery can make the current salary cap work until it is raised for the new TV contract in 2014.
Chicago fans all witnessed how the cap ruined the chances of the Chicago Blackhawks following their championship run, when they were forced to dump a bunch of salaries in order to get under the cap. Well, the Bears certainly want to avoid the same thing from happening to them.
Although, to be fair, many Bears fans would probably take that in exchange for another Super Bowl victory.
There are 10 players per team, on average, whose contracts will expire over the next two seasons. However, the Bears have 17 players who fall under this category.
In fact, the only Bears starters who will still be signed after 2014 are Julius Peppers, Lance Briggs, Brandon Marshall, Gabe Carimi and Chris Conte.
According to Steven Schweickert of Windy City Gridiron, "the team has about $13 million left in cap space for 2013 and another $50+ in 2014, so there's room for some priority resignings (like a new Cutler deal)."
Yes, and speaking of a new Cutler deal, the changes to the offense (the line notwithstanding) have set up Cutler pretty well to be in line for another nice payday after this season.
Meanwhile, Clayton feels that the Bears will have to break up the team if they don't win a title by 2014. But that would be true regardless of outcome, since the defense is aging. The Bears know they need to get younger, especially on defense.
By 2014, Brian Urlacher will likely be about done. Likewise, Roberto Garza should be gone. And Charles Tillman is a free agent after 2013. There will be some difficult decisions to be made.
But none of this matters to Bears fans right now. They only care about this season, for the most part. This is a Super Bowl-or-bust year for Chicago, and everyone feels it—from the GM and head coach on through the players and even the clubhouse attendant.
Still, this isn't a problem unique to the Bears. If the salary cap goes up only $1.4 million to $2 million per team over the next two years, teams will have to decide which players they can keep. This is yet another reason why the Bears can't afford to go overboard on a contract extension to Forte.
So, the question is, would you trade one title for some rough seasons? Or would you prefer the Bears become consistent winners, albeit without that elusive title?
Go for that ring, and the future be damned. Sure, it would be ideal if they could do it the right way and win a championship while building for the future. But as we've seen with other teams in Chicago, that isn't easy, except for the Bulls with Michael Jordan.
With one Super Bowl win, it will all be worth it.
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