With the NFL descending on Lucas Oil Stadium for the Scouting Combine, there’s plenty of news cranking out of Indianapolis. Here’s a few interesting nuggets to follow:
– It was reported that the 2014 salary cap will be rising to approximately $130 million, which is about 4 million more than projected. That gives the Bears around $9M in cap room without factoring in money that could be freed up by potential cuts (Peppers, Bush, Bennett), restructuring contracts (Peppers, Briggs) or deferring money to future contract years (Cutler, Jennings).
– The Seahawks will NOT franchise Michael Bennett, which is huge news for the Bears who could be looking to use his brother Martellus as a recruiting tool for one of the best pass rushing DEs available.
– Panthers GM Dave Gettlemen was non-committal about WR Steve Smith’s future with the team. He has a big cap number ($7 million) but for a team with no other decent receivers it seems like a strange move to cut your best one. Unless maybe Gettlemen has a free agent replacement in mind (Decker, Maclin, Nicks) or is going to stock up on rookies from this year’s loaded WR class. What the Panthers do (or don’t do) with Smith could impact their ability to re-sign DE Greg Hardy, so it’s worth keeping an eye on.
– Falcons HC Mike Smith made it very clear that the Falcons are planning on keeping DE Osi Umenyiora, who I thought might be a free agent target for the Bears if he was released. Oh well.
– Another veteran who isn’t going to be an option for the Bears is Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware. With his $16Mil cap number and Ware adamant about not accepting a reduced number, I don’t know how the Cowboys are going to keep him considering they are about $20M over the cap right now, but HC Jason Garrett all but guaranteed Ware would be a Cowboy in 2014.
– Vikings GM Rick Spielman spoke very highly of LB Chad Greenway. I think it’s a smokescreen and Greenway is still getting cut. I can’t imagine the Vikings paying 8.2 M for one of the worst OLBs in the league last year. He plays the same position as Briggs, but would provide solid competition for the untested McClellin & Bostic at the other LB spot if the price was right.