Bears Insider

Despite Chargers' cap issues, Bears unlikely to be in picture for Khalil Mack, Keenan Allen

Don't expect the Bears to benefit from the Chargers' plight

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The NFL's new league year officially begins Wednesday, and with it come big decisions for Jim Harbaugh and the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Chargers currently need to clear $28.68 million in salary cap space to become compliant and be able to sign free agents and orchestrate trades. The Chargers have four players -- Khalil Mack, Keenan Allen, Joey Bosa, and Mike Williams -- whose fates hang in the balance as LA works to become cap-compliant.

Mack ($38.517 million cap hit in 2024, according to Over the Cap), Bosa ($36.611 million), Allen ($34.717 million), and Williams ($32.46 million) own massive salary cap hits, and the Chargers have to find a way to navigate this issue to get their offseason underway. Cutting or trading any of the four players is on the table, as are potential contract extensions or the addition of void years.

No matter how the Chargers solve their issue, it's unlikely the Bears will benefit from their moves.

The Chargers' most likely move is to cut Williams, who is coming off a torn ACL and entering his age-30 season. No team is going to trade for Williams due to his age, injury history, and ACL rehab, so that's likely their first move.

The next part gets tricky.

Bosa, 29, probably has the highest trade value due to his age. He has two years remaining on his contract. Whichever team trades for him will take on cap hits of $22 million in 2024 and $25.36 million in 2025. That's easy to stomach for a pass rusher with Bosa's pedigree. The issue is that Bosa has only played in 12 games or more three times in his career. When he's on the field, he's tremendous. He just struggles to stay on the field. The other issue is that the other 31 teams know the Chargers are in a bind and might just want to wait to see if Bosa, or Mack, gets cut instead of surrendering a second or third-round pick.

Even if Bosa is cut, it seems likely he would head up the California coast to try to play with his brother Nick and the San Francisco 49ers. The Bears are being cautious with their spending and overpaying for the talented but oft-injured Bosa, which doesn't read like a page from general manager Ryan Poles' playbook.

That brings us to Mack. The former Bear is coming off a tremendous season and is entering the final year of his contract at age 33. Any team that trades for Mack will take on a $23.25 million cap hit in 2024. Teams have paid for aging edge rushers in the past -- the Raiders signed 32-year-old Chandler Jones, and the Bills went big on 33-year-old Von Miller. Both were whiffs. Any team acquiring Mack, either via trade or on the open market should he get cut, will want to pay for what's ahead, not what he's already put on tape. The Bears have an edge-rushing need, but Mack doesn't fit their timeline and will be too expensive.

Allen is a non-starter. There's a good chance the Chargers will extend the talented wide receiver, who has continued to get better with age and has a great rapport with quarterback Justin Hebert.

The Chargers are unlikely to go full rebuild in Year 1 under Harbaugh. Their best path seems to be to cut Williams, extend Allen, and add void years to Mack and Bosa's deals to lessen this year's cap hit and eat the cost down the road.

Either way, it's unlikely the Bears will be able to pick up the wide receiver or edge rusher they need from the Chargers' scrap heap. There might not be much of a scrap heap at all.

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