The Chicago Bears announced earlier today that they restructured offensive lineman Charles Leno Jr.’s contract.
The Bears are taking $7 million of Leno’s base salary and converting that money into a signing bonus, which will result in the freeing up of an additional $5.6 million in cap space this season and an additional $2.8 million in both 2020 and 2021, the final two years of Leno’s contract.
The Bears signed former seventh-round pick Leno to a 4-year contract extension in 2017. Leno has been a staple at offensive line for the Bears, starting 62 games since being drafted in 2014. Here are a few ways that the Bears are likely to use the extra $5.6 million from this recent restructuring:
The Bears Will Extend Key Players
The Bears have two likely candidates for extensions in the near future: look for them to use the extra money to extend either left guard Cody Whitehair, linebacker Leonard Floyd, or both. Leno recently told Pro Football Weekly that he felt Whitehair definitely deserved a contract extension, speaking highly of Whitehair’s work ethic: ”I’ll tell you one thing: I know I work hard. And Cody Whitehair is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen in my life, ” he said.
The other extension could go to Leonard Floyd. The Bears picked up Floyd’s fifth-year option this year, and the extra money could very well go to him.
Don’t Expect a Major Spending Spree
The Bears have several key players they want to secure down the road, including Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Considering that much of their future is already planned for, it’s highly unlikely that the team is going to go after any additional players.
While names like Jadeveon Clowney have been tossed around by fans, don’t expect Ryan Pace to alter team chemistry by making a surprise signing the way he did when acquiring Khalil Mack last year.
Could the Money Be Spent Elsewhere?
An immediate need for the Bears is kicker, so some have wondered if they may use a little extra money to pay for a free agent kicker if one becomes available. This is a possibility, and the Bears could be keeping an eye on the kicking situation in Carolina, where either Graham Gano or Joey Slye will be released:
Some have also wondered about whether the Bears might use any of this newly freed up cash to offer veteran linebacker Danny Trevathan a contract extension. Trevathan’s contract expires at the end of this season, and he’s a core member of the defense and a mentor to second-year linebacker Roquan Smith.
Trevathan is getting older, however, and the Bears will likely want to see what they have in backup linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe this season before making any major decisions regarding Trevathan’s contract. A re-signing is possible, but not likely to at this point, especially considering there has already been talk of the Bears parting ways with Trevathan at the end of the 2019 season.