With a tentative schedule for post-lockout life in the NFL tabbing Free Agency to begin on July 28th, it’s high time to evaluate what the Bears will do to improve the team that fell just short of a trip to the Super Bowl in their loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship game. NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert looks at each NFC North teams’ salary cap situation and it’s quite promising for the Bears.
According to Seifert, if the 2011 salary cap comes in at the $120 million level, the Bears will go in $37 million under the salary cap and actually will have to spend to hit the minimum.
Cap status: About $37 million under
Comment: If anything, the Bears will have to spend significantly in order to exceed the cap “floor,” or the minimum expenditure required. Regardless, all indications have been that the Bears are prepared to be active in free agency. At least one starting-caliber offensive lineman should be on their shopping list.
Let’s figure out how to spend the McCaskey’s dough after the jump.
We touched on some free agent priorities recently, so I won’t re-visit those but when I was perusing the list of possible free agents, I was looking in the bargain basement. Given the new information about the salary cap, we should be looking at a few big ticket items as well:
Vincent Jackson, WR
Jackson will be one of the most sought after wide receivers to hit the open market. He’s got the size, speed and big play ability to change an offense. He would immediately become Jay Cutler’s best buddy and go-to receiver. Top receivers can pull $7 million annually against the cap, so it would knock roughly 20% of your cash on one guy, but it’s a hell of a place to start.
Sidney Rice, WR
I don’t envision a situation where the Bears would go after Jackson and Rice, but Rice would be another big wide receiver target who could be an option. Concerns about his bum hip could reduce his value slightly. If he is healty, it would be feather in the Bears’ cap to pull him away from the division rival Vikings.
Cullen Jenkins, DT
Another strategy to improve and hurt a division rival, Jenkins is a beast up front that would help fortify the middle of the line. He made $3.2 million last season and will certainly be looking for a raise from there. Could the Bears land him for $4 per year with a decent signing bonus?
Logan Mankins, OG
Mankins could be the first interior lineman to command $10 million per year. The Patriots franchised him before the lockout, but with a new CBA coming, who knows if he could come back out on the market. Would the Bears be willing to part with some draft picks and pay the huge money Mankins would require?
Chad Greenway, LB
There’s been a lot of talk about re-signing Pisa or Nick Roach, but why not steel Greenway away from the Vikings. He would be a decent top end linebacker, so playing alongside Briggs and Urlacher should make him tremendous and fit in well in Lovie’s Cover-2 defense.
Jonathan Joseph, CB
Joseph would be a nice compliment to Tillman as a solid corner in both coverage and run support. Now if only Peanut could teach him that ball punch move.
Have any other splurges you’d like to see the Bears explore? Let’s see em in the new and improved Comments section and dream big, my friends.