The Chicago Bears are heading into the 2013 offseason with limited space to work with under the estimated $121 million salary cap. Seeing as they are still mulling over slapping defensive tackle Henry Melton with the $8.3 million franchise tag, they’ll need some more room to make the necessary roster moves in the coming months.
One way that the Bears could open up some space is by getting defensive end Julius Peppers to restructure his current deal.
Peppers is scheduled to collect a base salary of $12.9 million in 2013, which will count just over $16 million against the cap. Seeing as that’s about 13 percent of the team’s total available cap space, it seems logical that that figure be reduced before the Bears can make any significant moves this offseason.
If Peppers were to convert a significant portion of his base salary to a bonus, the Bears would be allowed to spread the hit of that money throughout the remaining life of his current deal, which runs through 2015. Realistically, he could help his club surround him with extra talent in 2013 by convert his pay to bonuses and reducing his cap hit to somewhere around $6 million.
Peppers won’t be expected to take a pay cut, especially coming off yet another Pro Bowl season. But the elite pass-rusher shouldn’t have too much trouble understanding the Bears’ reasoning behind this move. If he wants Melton back in the lineup alongside him next season, he’ll need to restructure.
The Bears are a few moves away from being contenders in 2013. Unless they plan on underwhelming like they did last season, though, they’ll need to find some extra space under the salary cap. That starts with Peppers restructuring.