The Chicago Bears are financially tapped out. Upon reviewing Spotrac, the Bears are currently $7 million over the cap. The frequency of transactions does throw the number off, however, and there are a few variables missing. Most notably, Cody Whitehair's re-structuring and Jimmy Graham's contract details aren't listed. There is also a dispute over Robert Quinn's cap hit between Spotrac and Over The Cap, but Spotrac also includes the prospective draft class's contracts in the figure, which is why I prefer it. The number isn't perfect, but it does give you a calculated ballpark estimate on the Bears' salary cap.
"The salary cap is fluid," is something often echoed during free agency. This is true, but it carries repercussions. Any time a contract is restructured, some of the player's base salary is converted into a signing bonus. This lowers the cap for the current season and spreads it out over the remainder of a contract for up to five years. Good teams will only do this with foundational pieces of their team that they expect to be healthy and productive in the years to come. This is why Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, and Cody Whitehair, and Eddie Goldman are the types of players with restructured contracts. There are a few players' contracts that can be restructured, Nick Foles being one of them, but that would mean the Bears are committing to him for three years.
Cuts, trades, and extensions are all things that can help free up cap space as well. The Bears do have a plethora of tight ends, and a couple will need to be cut, which will free up minimal cap space. Fans call for the cutting of Charles Leno or Bobbie Massie, and while emotionally it may feel right, it doesn't make any sense financially. The Bears would save $3 million with a Leno cut or trade, but they would still have salary-cap issues while not being able to afford his replacement. Cutting the current left tackle and hoping one falls to the 43rd pick in the draft isn't a winning formula. As for Massie, the Bears would lose an extra $2 million if he were cut. Trading Massie would give the Bears an extra $4 million in cap space, but what would the trade market be for him?
Obviously, the most opportune situation would be extending Allen Robinson. An extension would allow the Bears to rework his 2020 cap hit and differ it to later years. This seems like it should happen, and it likely will, but it's not set in stone just yet.
Allen Robinson tweeted this after Amari Cooper agreed to a five-year, $100 million dollar contract ($60 million guaranteed). He may be happy for Cooper, but really he's just happy that the market for receivers was set high. Robinson knows how important he is to the offense, and he was vocal during the CBA voting period, knowing the deal was more suited to appease veteran minimum players' salaries. He is only 26 years old and looking to cash in for a second time. Does he deserve Amari Cooper money? Some Robinson fans may believe so, but that is a hefty contract for any receiver. That is the type of contract that only perennial All-Pros typically receive. It's unknown how deep the Bears are in talks with him and what the upside is, but for now, he's still on the last year of his deal.
The deal is worth $15 million and only carries a dead cap hit of $2 million if he's cut or traded. Obviously, cutting him shouldn't be an option. The Bears have a solid wide receiver room and cutting Robinson would make it look ugly. They can explore trade options, and while it's not the most likely scenario, it is possible. He would have a market, and the Bears could get a nice piece of draft capital or a less expensive player that fills a position of need.
This year's wide receiver draft class is the most impressive one of the last decade. There is no doubt a first-round talent will fall to the Bears' 43rd or even 50th pick. The prospective class has also driven the wide receiver market down in free agency, so the Bears may have an opportunity to get a solid player on a team-friendly deal.
Moving a player like Robinson would not be an easy thing to stomach. It's not something the organization would do just to clear up cap space, but if an opportunity arises, the Bears have to at least consider it. The Bears still have a few needs on the offensive line.