With news coming on Thursday that the NFL has increased its salary cap by about five percent, the Chicago Bears can breathe a bit easier. Instead of the cap sitting at approximately $126 million — the number teams were expecting to see — the Bears now have $130 million to work under.
Entering the offseason, Chicago had about $7.6 million to work with for this season. However, there are most certainly going to be cuts made in order to bump that number up a bit. Defensive end Julius Peppers is one of the names that you could see released very shortly.
The increase will now serve to help bring back the key players Chicago wants to retain. One of those names could be defensive tackle Henry Melton who, after a Pro Bowl season in 2012, missed almost all of last year with a torn ACL. A huge part of the Bears’ defense when healthy, Chicago would greatly benefit by bringing him back.
While many fans weren’t too sure about Melton heading into the offseason, things looked even more grim after a report that the Bears were likely not to use the franchise tag this year — something many thought Melton could obtain. Brad Biggs, a Chicago Tribune columnist covering the Bears, appears to be optimistic about Melton’s future with Chicago.
Emery upbeat about Henry Melton and says #Bears would like to re-sign the DT. Melton told me this week he’d like to return.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) February 20, 2014
It is great news to know that Melton could be a priority for general manager Phil Emery. He is a player that, I’m sure, many fans would love to see back. Despite the health question, and how he will return following a devastating injury, Melton’s presence should immediately improve what was a poor run defense a year ago.
The other question marks, in terms of soon-to-be free agents, include bigger names like cornerback Charles Tillman, center Roberto Garza, linebacker James Anderson, linebacker D.J. Williams, safety Major Wright and defensive tackle Nate Collins — among even a few others.
Should the Bears choose to bring back Melton, they likelihood that they can re-sign someone like Tillman goes down tremendously. But, I won’t count it out. Chicago could definitely still work out deals favorable to both sides in order to get the most important pieces back on the field with them in 2014.