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Chicago Bears: A Look Ahead To 2014 Offseason Pt. 1

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John Mariotta-USA Today Sports

The Chicago Bears are almost halfway into the 2013 NFL season. After a disastrous Week 7 outcome, many fans are quickly looking to the upcoming offseason for optimism. At 4-3, the Bears’ season is not over, but is in serious peril.

The Bears should go into the upcoming offseason with just over $43 million in available cap space. With seven picks and a ton of pending free agents about to hit the market, some are not feeling very optimistic about the future. I, on the other hand, am very excited and I am about to show you why.

After the season, Chicago has a total of 32 pending free agents. Couple that with $45 million in cap space, and it seems there will be an issue. Taking a closer look, this is surely not the case. In my mock off eason for the Bears, I am going to show you how a few cuts and an extension or two can allow close to an extra $20 million in space.

Players on the short list (cuts):

Defensive end Julius Peppers — $18.1 million ($13.9 million base)
Running back Michael Bush $3.85 million ($2.8 million base)
Receiver Earl Bennett $2.4 million ($2.3 million base),
Punter Adam Podlesh $1.825 million ($1.4 million base)
Receiver Eric Weems $1.6 million ($1.0 million base)

Total: cap savings of $21.4 million

With $43 million originally set aside, Phil Emery will add another $21.4 million onto this to total $64.4 million in cap space. Now that Emery is done cutting, it’s time to extend his no. 1 receiver for a few more years. Brandon Marshall is due $9.3 million ($9.1 million base) in the final year of his contract, and the Bears can save a million or more simply extending the soon-to-be 30-year old out another four years for $44 million.

Set cap after cuts and restructure: $67.4 million.

Now it is time to focus on re-signing key players. The biggest player and question mark is obviously Jay Cutler and after yet another injury for the fourth straight year, Emery and company has a tough decision to make. Head coach Marc Trestman is known as a quarterback guru and may want to take his chances in the draft. As most know, this is not a decision to be taken lightly, so I present my solution to a tricky situation.

Re-signings:

QB Jay Cutler — franchise tag ($15 million): Past injuries have to be a concern at this point, so this is the ultimate ultimatum — tag your QB and draft a prospect.
CB Tim Jennings — (3/15) $4 million ’14 cap hit: Jennings has played well and has been more consistent in 2013, and the Bears aren’t ready to part with both corners with this unique situation.
S Charles Tillman — (2/14) $6 million ’14 hit: your eyes do not deceive you, I have Tillman going to safety in 2014. After injuries and safety issues, Tillman should be a good option.
LG Matt Slauson — (3/10) $3 million ’14 hit. Arguably the best lineman so far. A no-brainer.
K Robbie Gould — (3/10) $3 million ’14 hit. Gould’s age is getting up there, but his leg is as strong as it has ever been. He’s been with the franchise his whole career, I think he finishes it out.
S Major Wright  — (2/3) $1 million ’14 hit. Wright has struggled. It’s a depth and competition signing at worst.
LB James Anderson — (1/2) $2 million ’14 hit. Anderson has been arguably the team’s best linebacker through seven games. This move gives Khaseem Greene another year to develop.
DT Henry Melton — (5/27) $5 million ’14 hit. Melton was having a down year before a torn ACL ended his season. He could take a one-year gamble contract or take a value contract with his value down. I’ll take the latter.
DE Corey Wootton — (4/16) $4 million ’14 hit. Wootton has been the most undervalued member of this defense this year, and his versatility goes a long way as well. It’s a no-brainer in my opinion.
DT Nate Collins — (1/1) $1 million ’14 hit: Collins offers great value and coming off an ACL injury, he should be easily had.
WR Joe Anderson, FB Tony Fiammetta LS Patrick Mannelly — (2/2) 1 million ’14 hit: All good players that are of value to keep on this team.
CB Sherrick McMannis — (3/4) $1 million ’14 hit: McMannis has been an understated tool on special teams and brings good value. The Bears should lock him up while they can.
CB Zach Bowman (2/3) $1 million ’14 hit: Valuable depth and special teams keeps him here.
S Craig Steltz  (1/1) $1 million ’14 hit: Steltz offers good depth and special teams help.
LB Blake Costanzo (2/3) $1 million ’14 hit:  Constanzo also offers not only good depth, but is a key special teams player.

Total spent: $48 million
Remaining cap space: $17.4 million

With all cuts and re-signings out of the way, my next installment will show free agency, the draft and the depth chart.

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Brandon Marshall Tells Rich Eisen He Hasn't Spoken To Jay Cutler

During a recent appearance on ' The Rich Eisen Show', former Chicago Bears and current New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall was asked about his relationship with his old quarterback, Jay Cutler. Marshall, who has zero chill, replied that he had not spoken to Cutler in "two years." Naturally, Eisen was shocked and mentioned that they were teammates just a season ago. Marshall essentially confirmed that they were not talking off the field during his last year in Chicago, but ultimately wished Cutler well.

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