Changes have already been aplenty in the early stages of the 2013 offseason for the Chicago Bears. Gone after his nine-year tenure in Chicago is Lovie Smith, replaced by first-time head coach, Marc Trestman.
Trestman intends to bring more of an emphasis on the offensive side of the football and with that new added offensive emphasis, there will likely be some additions on both sides of the football.
The Bears have a lot of money invested in its core players, but will have to make the money work to be able to add new additions to the team in 2013.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times' Sean Jensen:
There will be an incremental increase in the salary cap to $121 million, and the Bears’ combined cap number of their top 41 players is about $14.5 million under that. That includes a carryover of space from this season.
According to a league source, the Bears are among the top 10 teams in terms of cap space.
Here is a breakdown of the Bears salary cap by position:
Currently, only Jay Cutler and Matt Blanchard are under contract for the 2013 season, but the organization will likely sign another quarterback to serve as Cutler's backup.
2013 is the final season of Cutler's current deal. While new head coach Marc Trestman has been noncommittal on his stance of Cutler being the team's quarterback of the future, getting him signed to a contract extension prior to the season would allow the Bears some flexibility on their spending moving forward.
Jason Campbell made $3.5 million in a backup role last season in Chicago, but failed to impress when given opportunities. If no other teams come calling, he could be brought back as a cheaper option in 2013 than 2012.
The Bears spent big money in the 2012 offseason on running backs, inking Matt Forte to a four-year $30.4 million deal and Michael Bush to a four-year $14 million deal.
Armando Allen is not under contract for 2013 but is an exclusive-rights free agent, meaning the team can offer him the league's minimum salary and he has to accept it or they can let him walk.
With both Forte and Bush locked into long-term deals, it is unlikely that they look to add to the position through free agency with nothing more than lower-tier players. They could look to find a situational/third-down running back late in the draft, but with so many other pressing needs, free agency will be their likely route.
The wide receiving core (outside of Brandon Marshall) left little to be desired as many of them suffered through injuries and poor performances throughout the season.
The biggest question mark heading into 2013 is whether or not Devin Hester stays in Chicago and what his role will be. He hinted to Vaughn McClure of The Chicago Tribune that he needed a "fresh start" and the team could look into trading him if they are able to recoup some value.
Marshall is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver and Alshon Jeffery has the opportunity to solidify himself as the team's No. 2 receiver during training camp and the preseason. Earl Bennett had his ups and downs last season and because of that, they may look to add a veteran who can play the slot or draft a receiver in the later rounds to compete for some playing time as the team's third or fourth receiver.
2013 Cap Hits (according to Sportrac): Kellen Davis, $3.85 million. Matt Spaeth, $1.95 million. Kyle Adams, $556,668.
2012 was a down year across the board for Bears' tight ends, but none more notably than starter, Kellen Davis. He finished the season with just 19 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns after being touted by then-head coach Lovie Smith as a guy who could do all the things the other tight ends in the league could do.
Given his bad year, it is possible the Bears could release Davis. But even if they do not, it would be a surprise for them not to look at either the free-agent market or the draft to improve the position.
Guys like Jared Cook, Fred Davis, Brandon Myers and Dustin Keller all may hit the open market but given more pressing needs, there is a possibility that they cold look to guys like Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert or Stanford's Zach Ertz to improve the position at a more cost-efficient price.
2013 Cap Hits (according to Sportrac): Roberto Garza, $2.12 million. Gabe Carimi, $1.92 million. J'Marcus Webb, $1.33 million. James Brown, $480,000. Edwin Williams, $715,000
In 2012, the Bears offensive line struggled much like they had in their previous seasons with Jay Cutler at the helm. Only two players started all 16 games at one position (left tackle J'Marcus Webb and center Roberto Garza) and the other three positions were marred with poor play and injuries.
One plus along the offensive line was the play of guard Lance Louis prior to a knee injury that ended his season in late November. His contract expired at the end of the season. Given that most team's will not be interested in signing an offensive lineman coming off an ACL injury, the Bears should be able to re-sign him for cheap.
Both tackle positions will likely get a look at this offseason with the potential for some solid left tackles (Jake Long, Brandon Albert, Jermon Bushrod) to hit the open market. The draft is very deep at both the tackle and guard positions and it would not be a surprise to see the Bears address those positions with either of their first two picks of the draft.
2013 Cap Hits (according to Sportrac): Julius Peppers, $16.18 million. Shea McClellin, $1.87 million. Cheta Ozougwu, $480,000. Stephen Paea, $1.00 million. Matt Toeaina, $1.62 million. Aston Whiteside, $405,000. Corey Wootton, $1.44 million.
The Bears finished eighth in the league with 41 sacks, with the majority of them coming from their defensive line. Julius Peppers has the team's largest cap hit for 2013 with $16.18 million. The team could try and restructure his deal to free up some cap space or could cut him. Given his productivity and what he does for his teammates, he likely will not be cut.
One of the team's biggest offseason needs is to re-sign defensive tackle Henry Melton. He finished the season with six sacks, 43 tackles, and two forced fumbles. Given that the Bears will likely continue to utilize the 4-3 defense with Mel Tucker, Melton should be a top priority.
Israel Idonije, Amobi Okoye and Nate Collins are all free agents and it would not come as a surprise if one or two or them return.
The team still needs to address depth at both the defensive tackle and defensive end positions and could be looking early in the draft to help add depth at either position.
2013 Cap Hits (according to Sportrac): Lance Briggs, $7.41 million. Blake Costanzo, $1.01 million. Dom DeCicco, $555,000. Jerry Franklin, $480,000. J.T. Thomas, $503,129. Patrick Trahan, $480,000.
With Lance Briggs being the only starter from 2012 signed for 2013, this offseason will likely find the Bears looking for more help at the linebacker position.
It is unknown whether the new regime will be willing to re-sign veteran Brian Urlacher, but they likely only will at a much-reduced price. Nick Roach filled in for Urlacher at the end of the season at middle linebacker and could find himself in line for a pay raise from last season.
The Bears could look for Urlacher's replacement in the first round with the possibility of guys like Alec Ogletree, Manti Te'o and Kevin Minter being available when they pick 20th overall in the NFL draft.
The free-agency market does not appear to have much depth and the team may have to move forward with the same starting three as they had last season.
2013 Cap Hits (according to Sportrac): Isaiah Frey, $405,000. Tim Jennings, $5.1 million. Sherrick McManis, $630,000. Charles Tillman, $8 million.
2012 saw both Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings make it the Pro Bowl and they are rightfully the two highest players in the Bears secondary. Both Kelvin Hayden and D.J. Moore saw action at the nickelback position last season and both are slated to become free agents. Hayden would be the logical choice to keep the position given that the money is right.
With both Tillman and Jennings getting older and entering the final years of their deal, do not be surprised to see them draft a cornerback higher than expected if there is a talented player available.
Veterans like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Derek Cox could interest the Bears if the price was right. Both could play on the outside or inside as a nickelback.
2013 Cap Hits (according to Sportrac): Chris Conte, $698,400. Brandon Hardin, $637,844. Tom Nelson, $630,000. Chyl Quarles, $405,000. Craig Steltz, $852,500. Anthony Walters, $550,000. Major Wright, $1.49 million.
The safety position for the Bears is one of the team's youngest and least expensive groups heading into 2013.
Major Wright and Chris Conte both performed well during 2012 but still have plenty to work on for the 2013 season. Former head coach Lovie Smith was a strong supporter for both safeties but it is unknown how new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker feels about the position.
For years the team has lacked much depth at the position and could benefit from some veteran depth. Craig Steltz has shown in the past that he has the ability to step in at either strong or free safety position and Anthony Walters played well when given an opportunity late in the season following an injury to Chris Conte.
The unknown is what Brandon Hardin can bring to the team after missing his entire rookie season in 2012. If the organization feels comfortable with his abilities moving forward, they may not look to add to this safety group for 2013.
2013 Cap Hits (according to Sportrac): Robbie Gould, $2.92 million. Adam Podlesh, $1.72 million. Patrick Mannelly, $990,000.
An injury to Robbie Gould late in the season forced the team to sign Olindo Mare, but Gould is expected to return healthy in 2013.
Adam Podlesh struggled at times last season and the organization even brought in punters for a workout late in the season. But Podlesh prevailed and finished the season strong.
Patrick Mannelly has played the most games in Bears history and has shown no signs of slowing down. He is still considered one of the best long snappers in the game.