How Bears free agent signings affect salary cap space in 2023

Bears salary cap space update after Day 1 of free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

For months we’ve heard about how much salary cap space Bears GM Ryan Poles had at his disposal this offseason, and how he might deploy it. On Monday, the first day NFL teams were allowed to negotiate with free agents, Poles finally got a chance to put that salary cap money to work. Throughout the day, Poles reportedly agreed to four deals with soon-to-be new Bears players: Tremaine Edmunds, T.J. Edwards, DeMarcus Walker and Nate Davis.

Some of the contracts could be considered value signings, while others were monster deals. In all, here’s how they all shook out, per various reports:

  • Edmunds: four years, $72 million, $50 million guaranteed

  • Davis: three years, $30 million, $17.5 guaranteed

  • Walker: three years, $21 million, $16 million guaranteed

  • Edwards: three years, $19.5 million, $7.9 million guaranteed

At first glance that looks like a ton of money. The Bears entered free agency projected to have around $75 million in space for 2023. Based on average annual values of the above contracts, it would appear as if the Bears would have wiped out well over half of that cap space in one day. But thanks to accounting magic tricks, like using signing bonuses to spread money out over a number of years, the Bears are projected to still have plenty of room to sign other players. Using projections from OverTheCap, Spotrac and reports from other deals that haven’t been added to their databases yet, it appears the Bears still have over $40 million in cap space this year.

It’s important to note that these numbers are approximations and projections. As more details are released, the projections become more clear and more accurate. Keep in mind that the Bears will have to keep some money free to sign their upcoming free agent class. That money will change as the Bears swap picks, too. Regardless, we know enough to know that Poles still has some space to sign more players in the second and third waves of free agency.

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