Crunching The Numbers, analyzing restructures and their future impact.
As a lot of you have been noticing, the Bears have been taking an aggressive approach to free up much needed cap space. It started when Chicago re-signed Bobbie Massie to a 4 year $30 million contract ($7.7mil/year) with a $5.2 million signing bonus, lowering his cap hit to $3.8 million which was necessary for us to make any moves this offseason. Structuring or restructuring a contract and converting base salary into a signing bonus gives the player a lump sum of guaranteed money on top of their base salary and then distributes the teams cap hit saved at signing over the remainder of the contract. Looking at the math in detail with Massie's contract, after the $5.2 million signing bonus his base salary is lowered to $2.4 million in 2019 but his cap hit is $3.8 million. This is because they take that $5.2 million signing bonus and spread it out over the four yeas of his contract($1.3mil/year), which brings his cap number to $3.7, adding roster/workout bonus's and you reach $3.8 million.
Any time a team cuts a player with a signing bonus or a restructured deal, the team is liable for that cap hit no matter what, even if they have already given the player his cash. If a player is cut, that money is then converted into dead cap money, which is what will happen with Cody Parkey. In 2018 Cody Parkey received a 4 year $15 million dollar contract($3.75/year) with $9 million guaranteed, which is the key here. Because Parkey's contract was a little more cut and dry he was going to get through most of his guaranteed money by the end of year two, but because of poor performance and a appearance on the Today Show, Chicago is forced to cut him, and the Bears are on the hook for that money. His $3.8 million base salary was paid out in 2018 and if the bears cut Parkey today, they would take a $5.2 million cap hit in 2019. Ryan Pace stated they will designate a June 1st cut which distributes the cap hit to $4 million in 2019 and $1.2 million in 2020, again adding flexibility for this season.
Kyle Long restructured his deal and although it was very organizationally friendly (see Is This Long's Last Hurrah?), and gave the Bears the opportunity for a 2020 opt out, they still will defer an extra $1.5 million to next years cap. Then I woke to the news of the big man, Kahlil Mack restructured his contract converting $13 million of his base salary into a signing bonus and distributing that over the next 5 years($2.6mil/year). Eddie Goldman also had his signing bonus converted freeing another $3 million in the 2019 salary cap and adding another $750,000 to the last four years of his deal.
As of now the Bears are scheduled to sign running back Mike Davis (SEA) to a 2 year $6 million contract (details not released) and slot corner Buster Skrine (NYJ) to a 3 year $16.6 ($8.5gtd.) million dollar contract with a $4.25 million dollar signing bonus, $1.4 million distributed over the remainder of the contract.
It can get dangerous buying a line of credit and pushing off cap hits to future years. The Bears have already dipped into the pot for 2020 and spent $9 million of the anticipated cap space, and the number could possibly go up if the Le'veon Bell speculation comes to fruition. For players like Mack or Long, the restructures are fairly harmless because you know Mack will be here for most of that contract and with Long, you have the out. A situation like Antonio Brown on the other hand can really do some damage to a salary cap. Parkey's situation hurts, but it doesn't kill Chicago because Pace has gotten most of the dead money off of the books prior to the 2019 season, even with the cut, Chicago's cap hit is still average at $5 million.
The writing is on the wall, and it's pretty clear he restructured Mack's deal to make room to negotiate with Bell. If we don't acquire him, we don't have to spend the money!! If Chicago doesn't "splash" in free agency, makes reasonable signings, and has that $11 million dollars left over at the end of the year we can cover all of the carry over from 2019 and have a little bit to spare.