Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery met with reporters earlier today upon his arrival to Bourbonnais, Ill. for the team’s 2013 edition of Training Camp. One very important topic of discussion addressed was players on one-year deals and their prospects for potentially striking an extension during the season.
“We are always open to dialogue with our players and with their agents,” Emery said according to ESPN. “But I will tell you that with where we’re at with our current salary cap and the room that we have in our cap in our efforts to put together a championship team in 2013, I do not anticipate that we will do any extensions of contracts during this season. All those will occur, with the players it will occur with, will happen in 2014 and not during the 2013 season.”
He could not be more correct in his position on the matter, and I 100-percent agree for a few very important reasons.
First, the Bears are tight against the cap. Emery obviously delved into that a little bit, but their actual cap space at the moment is only about $1.6 million according to Yahoo! Sports. They are allowed to go over the cap to re-sign some of their players, but it would cause the team some unnecessary taxes and things of that nature. And frankly, it’s a little irresponsible with some deals for players that may not prove to be winners in Chicago.
Another important factor here is that over 40 players on the Bears’ current roster are on one-year deals. That includes Jay Cutler, Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Henry Melton, Major Wright, Robbie Gould and at least six other players who could start this season.
That leads to the biggest reason, in my opinion, on why Emery and the Bears are right in waiting until the 2014 offseason to decide who to give extensions to. These individuals’ performance and the team’s overall success in 2013 will determine what stage this team will be in heading into 2014. I would go so far as to say that 2014 will be the most important offseason in at least the last 10 years.
If the Bears are competitive and make the playoffs after a three-year drought, we should see a lot of those guys come back. Especially players who would keep the core of this team together such as Cutler, Tillman, Jennings and Melton, who’ll have high price tags. However, if the Bears burnout to another .500-or-so season and do not make the playoffs, well, we’ll see a complete rebuild.
It’s not something that I want to see, but Emery needs to keep his options open from that standpoint. If he commits to these players before they prove they can win, he’ll have made a huge mistake. Sure, a guy like Cutler can probably be had a bit cheaper now than if he has a very good season and they do make the playoffs, but these are risks you have to measure.
Now, I believe the team is going to be very good this year. They went 10-6 last year and just missed out on the postseason, but they fixed many issues from a year ago, especially on the offensive line, at tight end and linebacker. But you never know, and that’s why this was the only decision they should’ve made here — and they did.