5 players the Bears can sign with free cap space NFL just gave them

The league gifted NFL teams even more financial freedom than anticipated.

Chicago Bears, Curtis Samuel
Chicago Bears, Curtis Samuel / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
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On Friday, the Chicago Bears found out they were getting even richer. Already boasting the third-most cap space in the league, news broke that the NFL is setting the 2024 salary cap at $255.4 million.

The new total is up about $10-$15 million from where teams were previously expecting it to be.

That means the Bears now have a whopping $80 million in cap space. They already figured to be big players on the free agent market, but let's take the increase into consideration.

Using only the $10-$15 million difference, that gives the Bears a good chance to go out and sign another high-impact player such as the following five names.

1. D.J. Reader, DT

Projected market value: $14.9 million annually

If you look at the Cincinnati Bengals the last couple of years, one thing you'd notice is how much different the run defense is without defensive tackle D.J. Reader on the field. The Bengals weren't very good against the run last year anyway, and ending the season without Reader due to a torn quad, Cincinnati looked abysmal. Reader suffered the injury in mid-December and was out the remainder of the year.

Now entering free agency, the 29-year-old run-stuffing specialist may not end up back in a Bengals uniform. Cincinnati has to add a lot more talent in their trenches and also figure out what they're doing with Tee Higgins.

Reader could come in and start immediately next to Andrew Billings, giving the Bears a two-headed monster against the run. They're already great against running backs, but the Bears would somehow get even better. And, the need for another starting defensive tackle is a big one.