Ryan Poles and the Bears now know exactly how much cash they’ll have to work with to put their team together. On Monday the NFL announced the salary cap will be set at $208.2 million per team for the 2022 season.
With that number in place, the Bears have over $25.6 million in space, which is 11th-most in the league, according to Spotrac. But the team only has 51 players under contract, with four of those players on deals with “void” years in 2022, meaning they’re not really going to play for the Bears next year, unless they sign a new deal.
Realistically, this means the Bears won’t be able to spend with reckless abandon when free agency opens up next week. With several position groups to flesh out, and only five draft picks (right now), they could probably afford one, maybe two, top tier free agent signings. They’ll have to fill the rest of the roster by finding maximum value in the second and third waves of free agency.
The Bears will realistically create more space by cutting a few veterans on expensive deals, too. For instance, Cody Whitehair and Eddie Goldman are the fourth-highest and fifth-highest paid players on the team, respectively. We don’t yet know how Poles evaluates either of those guys, or how they might fit into Matt Eberflus’ plans. By cutting each of those players, the Bears could save up to nearly $17 million total.
The Bears could shape their roster in many different ways, and could prioritize spending on various positions. With needs at wide receiver, cornerback, safety, inside linebacker, on the defensive line and possibly the offensive line too, it’s nearly impossible to predict exactly what their plan of attack may be. The one sure thing is that there will be plenty of new faces at Halas Hall by the time summer rolls around.