The Bears have a lot of work to do this offseason. Help is needed along the offensive line, there’s a void at safety and a starting-quality quarterback is expected to be added to the depth chart.
Unfortunately, if the Bears want to fill those needs in free agency, general manager Ryan Pace will have to make some difficult decisions on the future of several veterans. Currently, in the bottom-five of salary-cap space in the league, Chicago won’t have the spending power needed unless multiple cuts are made.
Here are four players who Chicago can move on from and free up cap space to spend on the open market.
OLB Leonard Floyd
Floyd is due $13.2 million in 2020, a cap figure that ranks third-highest on the team next season. He hasn’t played up to that price tag and would cost the Bears no dead money if they rescind his fifth-year option. Floyd has just 11.5 sacks over the last three seasons combined, numbers that are more in line with a backup pass-rusher than a highly-paid game-changer.
Gabriel has been a solid receiver for the Bears when healthy, but Anthony Miller‘s emergence and youngsters Riley Ridley and Javon Wims deserve more playing time in 2020. Moving on from Gabriel will save Chicago $4.5 million; it’s a logical move that Pace should make rather easily.
Amukamara, like Gabriel, has been a very solid starter for the Bears, but he’ll be 31 years old next season and will soon be on the decline. He has just one interception in his three seasons in Chicago; his lack of production doesn’t warrant a $10 million commitment against the cap. The Bears will save $9 million in life-after-Amukamara.
Braunecker doesn’t have a big paycheck coming to him in 2020 ($1.6 million), but his dead-cap figure is just $150,000. It’s a quick $1.5 million in savings, and while Braunecker has been a solid player on special teams for the Bears over the last few seasons, every dollar counts in an offseason with such high-priced needs.
If the Bears release Floyd, Gabriel, Amukamara, and Braunecker, they’ll have roughly $27 million in additional cap space. It’s safe to say that money can be invested more wisely on the open market this offseason than on the four players currently due to receive it in 2020.
Four Bears Ryan Pace can cut to free up 2020 salary cap space originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago