Bears On Contract Bubble

Bears On Contract Bubble

This time of the year most of what happens at Halas Hall is devoted to scouting college for the draft and pro players likely to hit free-agency. There’s also time allocated to assessing which players currently under contract for 2017 might be moved to better use the money elsewhere. Spotrac.com recently identified four Bears whose contract status for 2017 puts them in the spotlight of those discussions.

First and foremost Jay Cutler’s contract status, besides his toxic relationship with Coach John Fox, makes him an ideal casualty. His 2017 cap hit is $16,000,000. If the Bears release or trade Cutler before June 1st, the Bears will save $14,000,000. After that date the savings shoots up an additional one million dollars.

That’s a considerable amount of money which could pay for the majority of their draft choices.

It’s highly unlikely the Bears will release Cutler before the draft on April 27th. There is a trade market for Cutler (see my debate on that topic with Brad Biggs HERE) and he will likely be dealt during the draft or when free agency begins on March 9th. But, if a deal isn’t consummated there’s a small, but highly unlikely, chance Cutler could be on the roster through training camp. His base salary for 2017 doesn’t kick in until the first Sunday of the regular season. We saw Sam Bradford dealt during training camp in 2016 so there’s a small possibility the Bears could string him along. It’s something neither side, Cutler or the organization, would want, but one that could possibly play out.

Even with the uncertainty regarding Alshon Jeffery’s return most analysts believe Eddie Royal’s time in Chicago is up. Royal finished last season on injured reserve. Because of injuries, over his two seasons with the team he played in only seven games each year and started only one last season catching a disappointing 33 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns. Royal’s departure adds $5,000,000 to the Bears kitty.

Kyle Fuller isn’t going to win any popularity contests with the Bears coaching staff. Deciding not to suit up and play after receiving medical clearance irritated defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and that irritation could be the motivation to part ways with the cornerback.


Fuller’s outright release doesn’t make much sense as it would result in $0 in savings and a dead cap hit of $3,082,228. But, trading Fuller is a distinct possibility.

With a draft and free-agent marketplace loaded with cornerbacks trading Fuller will probably only yield a low round draft pick. Moving Fuller results in a $1,740,955 savings.

Veteran Tracy Porter’s contract is a little trickier than most of the others. Porter signed a 3 year $12 million contract at the beginning of last season. Bears coaches loved hi leadership (until he overslept and missed the team’s bus for the final regular season game) and appreciated how he bravely played through injury. Problem is he rarely played well.

With Porter set to make $4,050,000 this season cutting him before June 1st would result in $3.450,000 savings. After the 1st, the savings increases to $3.750,000. The dead cap for each season is $300,000.

 

There’s a strong likelihood all four of these Bears will be traded or released. For Cutler it will be the end of a long eight-year saga of high expectations never fulfilled. Royal and Porter were brought in under the misguided expectation the team was ready to compete under John Fox’s rule. They weren’t. In part because both of these players were well past their prime.

Fuller, though, could be the great disappointment. The 14th pick of the 2014 draft broke into the NFL with two interceptions in only his second game. His rookie season though was marred by a broken hand. Then in 2015, he had trouble with Fangio’s defense, but showed improvement as the season went on.

Will the Bears give up on Fuller after his lost 2016 season? If they choose not to and he fulfills his potential Ryan Pace could scratch off a very important need off the team’s long list of needs.

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For Spotrac.com’s full story of potential contract bubble players for all 32 teams CLICK HERE.

 

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Aldo Gandia

Aldo Gandia

Among my career highlights I have produced two films while in high school that received nationwide attention; leaned out of a helicopter over the Gulf of Suez at the age of 20 to shoot movies of oil rigs; won an Emmy award for a sports special and another for a kid's fitness show; and led a team of very talented creative professionals to produce break-through corporate communications.


Tags assigned to this article:
Eddie RoyalJay CutlerKyle FullerTracy Porter

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