How Bears projected cap space went from $118M to $93M ahead of NFL Free Agency
How Bears projected cap space went from $118M to $93M originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The NFL informed teams that the 2023 salary cap figure will be a record $224.8 million per team.
That's over $16 million higher than in 2022 and up $42.3 from 2021.
But some how the Chicago Bears' estimated cap figure seemed to drop from well over $100 million earlier this month, to under $100 million now.
How did that happen? Free agency hasn't come and no new contracts have been signed.
Pro Football Focus' salary cap analyst Brad Spielberger shed some light.
A few things have happened to eat up roughly $25 million in cap space.
As Spielberger outlines, the first of which is $4.5 million in incentives for offensive lineman Riley Reiff. He was slated to receive $4.5 million if he was on the field for 10 percent of offensive snaps and if the team improves in any of six offensive categories.
The other is six 2020 draft picks earning the Proven Performance Escalator, each getting raises of $1 million. To oversimplify it, Proven Performance Escalator are given to players entering their fourth season and participated in certain percentages of a team's offensive or defensive snaps over their first three seasons.
There are three different levels of PPE, Over The Cap breaks it all down:
The Level One PPE is earned if a player participates in a certain percentage of a team's offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averages that percentage of offensive or defensive snaps over his entire first three years. For 2nd round picks, the average is 60%, and (as was the same in the 2011 CBA) for 3rd-7th round picks it is 35%.
The Level Two PPE is earned if a player participates in at least 55% of a team's offensive or defensive snaps in all of his first three seasons.
The Level Three PPE is earned if a player is selected to a Pro Bowl on the original ballot (not as an alternate) in any of his first three seasons.
Cole Kmet, Jaylon Johnson, Chase Claypool and Darnell Mooney are the more lucrative Level Two. Trevis Gipson and Kindle Vildor are Level One.
So those six players are getting a pay increase, based upon the restricted free agent tenders for that season. Again, Over The Cap outlines it for the two relevant PPE levels for the Bears:
The Level One PPE will raise the base salary to the amount of the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) RFA tender.
The Level Two PPE will raise the base salary to the amount of the ROFR RFA tender, plus $250,000.
The Bears also re-signed Equanimeous St. Brown to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million.
And lastly, the Bears also signed eight future/reserves deals.
But it isn't all doom and gloom, Chicago still have significantly more estimated cap space over the next NFL team. Pro Football Focus put's that number at $35.4 million. Teams can re-structure contracts to adjust cap space and players will be released to free up more, so these numbers will change over the course of the offseason.
But that's why the Bears' salary cap projections have dipped.
And the Bears have the No.1 overall draft pick to boot.
Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.