It was reported this morning that the 2014 salary cap will be approximately $130 million, which is about 2 million more then projected. That gives the Bears close to $8M in cap room without factoring in money that can be freed up by potential cuts (Peppers, Bush, Bennet), restructuring contracts (Peppers, Briggs) or deferring money to future contract years (Cutler, Jennings).
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– Shea McClellin is officially a linebacker. According to Trestman, he will compete primarily at strong-side LB (SLB) but will also get reps at MLB.
– Jon Bostic will compete for reps at MLB and the SLB position with McClellin.
– Based on Trestman’s comments it sounds to me like the Bears are strongly considering bringing MLB DJ Williams back next year. His contract should be similar to the 1 year /$1.3M deal he signed in 2013. Good value signing.
– The only starting linebacker position that is locked in is Lance Briggs at weak-side LB.
– To summarize the Bears LB situation for next year, it looks like Briggs at WLB, DJ Williams at MLB, and Bostic or McClellin at SLB. I still think the Bears could draft another LB, but they did draft two last year so it might not be as much of a priority as DE, DT, CB, & S.
– Trestman: “We’re going to get younger on defense”, that is at least the third time I’ve heard Trestman say that this off-season. It would be hard to get older.
– Trestman said the draft will be focused on defense (duh) and the Bears will be looking for players who can stop the run. Let’s hope he doesn’t totally ignore players who can get to the QB.
– Trestman on QB Josh McCown: “Josh is well aware of how we feel about him and that we want him back.” Good.
– Trestman on C Roberto Garza: “We feel like he should finish his career with the Bears.” Agreed.
– It looks like Chris Conte will be back with the Bears next year (sigh). According to Trestman: “I’ve been texting S Chris Conte extensively. He’s challenged by moving forward. He knows he has to get better.” When asked directly if Conte will be back, Trestman said yes and reminded the crowd that Conte was still under contract. Blah.
– On Henry Melton: Trestman said that Melton has dropped some weight, is rehabbing hard, and “he’s in a good place”. Not sure exactly what that means but it looks better for Melton’s return than it did the last time Trestman spoke about it when he hinted that he was unhappy with Melton’s rehab efforts.
– On Jay Cutler: “Cutler can improve on ball security in the pocket, fundamentals, as all QBs can. His football IQ and leadership thrived.”
– When asked about Julius Peppers, Trestman said that like most Bears, Peppers had an 8-8 season. Thanks for nothing there, Marc.
Bears GM Phil Emery
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– Emery says Shea McClellin is “perfect candidate” for SAM position and could be a 3-down OLB, but will need to earn the job. “Perfect” seems like a stretch to me, but I like that he will have to earn playing time.
– On Henry Melton: “We do want to bring back Henry.” Emery also reiterated what Trestman said about Melton’s rehab and said he’s made “positive progress”.
– On current Bears free agents, Emery said that the Bears will get a better feel for what they are worth after they test the open market. That is a dangerous strategy, considering some team could come in and blow the Bears out of the water with a big offer to Melton, McCown, or even Tillman.
– Emery says that Chris Conte will have to compete for a job, so at least the Bears are considering bringing in a starting caliber safety to compete with Conte. Let’s hope so at least. Emery also said that, “I’d like to be talking to him (Conte) about an extension”. Personally, I would like to see him in a Packers uniform.
– On Adam Podlesh: Punting competition will be “wide open” and said Drew Butler is Podlesh’s primary competition.
– On Charles Tillman: “We want him back”. No details from Emery on how negotiations are going, or if they are going on at all.
– Emery declined to answer a question about Julius Pepper’s contract info. Trestman basically did the same, avoiding it with his vague “8-8 season” comment.
– Emery seemed open to trading back from 14. He didn’t come right out and say it, but did mention that a lot of offensive play-makers should be available at 14 and also said it’s a deep draft on the defensive side of the ball. Considering that offensive play-makers aren’t a glaring need right now for the Bears, that sounds to me like a message to other teams that the 14th pick is available! I still think trading back with the 49ers for the 30th pick and another 2nd & 3rd rounder is the Bears best move.
That’s all I got so far. I will update if there is additional info throughout the day.