Bears Create Additional Cap Space With Latest Move: Report

Jimmy Graham contract restructure Bears

Getty Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham are ready for their second season playing together.

The Chicago Bears continue to live dangerously where their salary cap is concerned.

Per ESPN’s Field Yates, the Bears converted $5.825 million of tight end Jimmy Graham’s salary into a signing bonus, which frees up $4.66 million in cap space this season. Many analysts thought the Bears might cut Graham loose this offseason to save money, but they chose to let All-Pro corner Kyle Fuller and starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr. walk instead.

The move also pushes the $4.6 million to next season’s cap. It’s a practice Bears general manager Ryan Pace has made a habit of, which doesn’t bode well for the team’s future.

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Bears, Graham Seem to Think They Can Contend in 2021

By restructuring Graham’s contract in such a way, the Bears are pushing even more money to the future, which suggests Pace and head coach Matt Nagy believe they have a team that can contend in 2021. It’s something Graham believes, as well.

Graham is entering his 12th NFL season, and he admitted a few months back that he had pondered retirement this offseason, but decided to come back to the Windy City with the hope of winning a Super Bowl. “I certainly did [consider retiring] for a second there, for a little bit, [but] I’ve got a lot of unfinished business,” Graham said back in June, per the team’s official website.

“It was very difficult for me to go back in the dome and especially to lose,” he added. “I’m a pretty fiery person. I’m a pretty enthusiastic person. And I hate losing, simple as that. It was a lot of frustration there because I haven’t won a ring, and that’s all I think about. So just knowing that it’s another year, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. But I talked to Ryan and I talked to Matt, and I’m on board and I’m ready to do whatever it takes to get back in that position and to move forward and hopefully to make a run.”

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Bears Have Scary Dead Cap Situation Brewing in 2022

As it stands right now, the Bears are paying over $21.5 million dollars next year to three players who very likely won’t be on their roster: current third-string quarterback Nick Foles ($7.66 million in dead cap space, per Over the Cap) Graham ($4.6 million) and pass rusher Robert Quinn ($9.3 million).

Whether Quinn, Graham and/or Foles stick around in 2022 is almost irrelevant. Considering how desperate the Bears currently are for help on the offensive line and at cornerback coupled with the fact that their top wideout Allen Robinson has been wanting a new deal for a year now — pushing money into the future for aging players instead of investing in  young, core players of the future is a very dangerous practice — and it’s something Pace has been doing since his arrival.

The Bears also drafted Cole Kmet last year to be the team’s top tight end, and he is set to fill that role, which makes Chicago’s devotion to Graham a bit more confusing.

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