Bears Restructure 3 Contracts, Create $23 Million in Cap Space: Report

Ledarius Mack Chicago Bears Defense Khalil

Getty Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have restructured the contracts of two All-Pros on defense along with one key offensive lineman. On Saturday, NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that the Bears have converted the 2021 base salaries of linebacker Khalil Mack, safety Eddie Jackson and left guard Cody Whitehair into signing bonuses for the upcoming season.

The 2021 salary cap has been set at $182.5, and by converting those three salaries into signing bonuses has freed up $23 million in cap space for the Bears.

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Restructure Presumably Squelches Mack Trade Rumors

Rumors have been flying around — unfounded or not — that the Bears could possibly include Mack in a potential Russell Wilson trade. CBS Sports suggested the Bears shop him as a trade chip, and a few others, including Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Seahawks beat writer Rob Staton, felt as though Chicago would benefit from sending Mack to Seattle as a sweetener should the Bears actually manage to pull off a miracle and trade for Wilson.

By converting Mack’s 2021 salary (which was slated to be $26.6 million) to a signing bonus, the money will move to his future cap hits, which will now be gargantuan. No other team is going to want to take a fiscal hit like that for a linebacker, and since the money is guaranteed, the Bears aren’t likely to move him at all now — not that they ever were.

The three recent restructures leave the Bears $4 million under the cap. Essentially, they’re out of the red for the first time in months — but there are several moves that would still have to be made if Chicago is serious about finally solving its quarterback quandary.

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Bears Are Clearing Space to Add … Someone … Probably

What Chicago’s plans are at quarterback remain to be seen, but moves like this won’t be enough if it wants to acquire a quarterback like Wilson.

Per Jacob Infante of Windy City Gridiron, “These moves alone will not be enough to afford to take on Russell Wilson’s contract should the Bears trade for him, but it’s a step in the right direction. Regardless of whether they make the trade for the 8-time Pro Bowl quarterback, they have now cleared up some more cap space to try and make some moves during the free agency period.”

If the Bears aren’t getting ready to make a big splash for a signal-caller on the trade market, they still have plenty of other needs to address, primarily on the offensive line and at wide receiver.

Contract extensions to either corner Kyle Fuller or defensive lineman Akiem Hicks are still expected — but Bears GM Ryan Pace didn’t rule out the chance the Bears may cut some high-paid veteran talent simply because if he wants to pay a top-tier quarterback, he’ll have no choice. A contract extension for top wideout Allen Robinson would also free up some more cap space, so for the Bears, these restructures were likely just the beginning.

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