The Chicago Bears have an important offseason ahead where general manager Ryan Pace is going to have his hands full with what’s expected to be a decreased salary cap.
The salary cap is expected to decrease by nearly $22 million in 2021, which is due to the effects of COVID-19 during 2020. Currently where things stand — as OverTheCap projects — the Bears are $89,572 over the salary cap.
Which means Pace is going to have to make some changes in regards to cutting players and restructuring contracts, especially given the Bears have plenty of vacant positions to fill this offseason.
Here’s a look at the 10 biggest cap hits on the books for the Bears in 2021. (Salary cap numbers courtesy of OverTheCap.)
OLB Khalil Mack - $26.64M
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Mack still has four years left on his seven-year deal, where he's due to have a salary cap hit of $26.64 million in 2021, which makes up 14.6% of the total cap. Chicago will be looking for big things from Mack in 2021.
CB Kyle Fuller - $20M
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Fuller is entering the final year of his four-year extension, where he'll cost $20 million against the salary cap. The Bears could save $11 million in cap space by parting ways with Fuller this offseason. Although questions at cornerback would certainly loom.
OLB Robert Quinn - $14.7M
AP Photo/Danny Karnik
Quinn is entering the second year of his fifth-year deal, where he'll occupy $14.7 million in cap space. The Bears will certainly be looking for better production out of him in 2021.
DT Akiem Hicks - $12M
AP Photo/Wade Payne
Hicks is entering the final year of his four-year extension, where he'll cost $12 million against the salary cap. The Bears could save $10.5 million by parting ways with Hicks. It would certainly be hard to imagine this defense without Hicks.
S Eddie Jackson - $11.45M
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Jackson's cap number is set to increase exponentially in the first year of his four-year extension, where he'll cost $11.45 million against the salary cap. The Bears are looking for their young safety to rebound in 2021.
OL Charles Leno Jr. - $11.3M
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
Leno is entering the final year of his four-year extension, where he'll cost $11.3 million against the salary cap. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Bears part ways with one or both offensive tackles. Chicago would $6.2 million in cap space by cutting Leno, although it would cost $5.1 million in dead money.
TE Jimmy Graham - $10M
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Graham is entering the final year of his two-year deal, where he'll cost $10 million against the salary cap. The Bears could save $7 million in cap space by cutting Graham, where there would be $3 million in dead money.
OL Cody Whitehair - $9.6M
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Whitehair has four years remaining on his five-year extension, and he'll cost $9.6 million against the salary cap in 2021, a number that will increase starting in 2022. The future along the interior of the offensive line looks bright, and Whitehair is certainly a part of that.
OL Bobby Massie - $9.3M
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Massie is entering the third year of his four-year extension, where he'll cost $9.3 million in salary cap space. The Bears can save $5.4 million in cap space by parting ways with Massie. Every year of Massie's contract is a team option, so we'll see how the Bears handle things.
NT Eddie Goldman - $7.8M
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Goldman has three years left on his four-year contract extension, where he's going to cost $7.8 million against the salary cap. With a dead money charge of $12.85 million, it wouldn't make sense for the Bears to part ways. But money aside, it would make even less sense to part ways with Goldman after watching how the run defense struggled without him in 2020.