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Thursday, July 21, 2011
Bears should have plenty of cap room

By Michael C. Wright

To get an idea of where the Chicago Bears stand in terms of the projected $120 million salary cap, take a look at this piece by ESPN.com senior writer John Clayton.

Clayton projects the Bears to be $37 million under the cap, which means the Bears should have plenty of money to play with once a new collective bargaining agreement is finalized and the NFL returns to the business of free agency.

It’s worth noting that Clayton’s numbers are fluid -- and will be recalculated in the coming days -- because those figures don’t account for restricted free agent tenders.

Looking around the NFC North, clearly the Bears are in the best shape to become players in free agency. The Green Bay Packers are $62,600 under the cap, followed by the Detroit Lions ($16.6 million under). The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, are $5.1 million over the cap, according to Clayton’s figures, and will have to create some cap relief once there’s a new CBA.

What does this mean for the Bears? We’re not sure just yet.

If the new salary cap is indeed $120 million, and the floor is 90 percent of that, the Bears will be required to spend around $25 million in the coming days. It’s believed that the new CBA will call for expanded rosters of 90 players, which means the Bears will need to acquire 36 more players.

Obviously, the Bears will need to sign several of their own free agents, rookies, and undrafted rookies, which should still leave plenty for them to make a big move in unrestricted free agency. It’s unclear whether the Bears will attempt to make a splash in unrestricted free agency, similar to what they did last year with defensive end Julius Peppers.

But what is clear is the Bears should have the cap flexibility to do it.