Roster moves are starting to come hot and heavy as teams begin to cut players to clear cap room and adjust their rosters from underperforming or troublesome players. The Bears have yet to make a move, but there are players the Bears should consider cutting for various reasons, some are obvious cuts, some are not so obvious.
This is a very delicate situation because the Bears are in need of extra cap space but also need to maintain a certain level of play in order to compete. The Bears aren’t yet in a blow it up and rebuild it mode, they’re trying to add to the talent they have on the roster.
There is one player you can consider as a player whom the Bears might consider cutting, purely for salary cap reasons and that’s Julius Peppers. Peppers just turned 33-years-old, and his cap number for 2013 is huge, and it will only grow as he enters the final two years of his contract. Peppers’ production has been for the most part pretty steady in the way he’s produced sacks, but his pressure numbers went down. Peppers dropped from 53 hurries in 2011 to 37 hurries in 2012, but his run stops, QB hits and sacks have stayed relatively close.
Peppers is without question the best player on the defensive line currently though over the next two to three years of his contract that may not be the case. Henry Melton and Corey Wootton are on the way up, and have yet to hit their peaks. If the Bears cut Peppers they save around $8-million while having to pay out around $9-million regardless of if he’s on the roster.
If the Bears franchise Melton, without getting an extension done, that would leave them around $5-million under the cap with which to sign the rest of their free agents. If they rid themselves of Peppers’ beast of a contract that cap number jumps to around $13-million. That huge level of savings against the cap may be too much to pass up because of the number of free agents. At the very least Peppers is a major candidate to have his contract restructured to a lesser amount of money. Sure the Bears may be out $9-million, but Peppers would be out a lot more over the final three years of his contract because no team is going to pay a 33-year-old DE the level of money Peppers is slated to make. The Bears have leverage because Peppers isn’t going to fully cash in over the next two seasons if he hits the open market.
What complicates this situation is Shea McClellin’s lack of development in year one. If McClellin looked as promising in year one as both a pass rusher and run defender as Quinton Coples or Chandler Jones, they would be even more likely to jettison Peppers. Instead to keep the level of play on defense necessary to compete in 2013, the Bears will likely have to keep this monstrosity of a contract or have Peppers restructure.