Defensive end Julius Peppers agreed to restructure the remaining years on his Bears contract, creating salary cap space for the Bears that potentially could be turned into contract extensions elsewhere on the roster, even before the end of this season.
Indeed, general manager Phil Emery did not firmly rule out moves of exactly that sort. He didn’t at the outset of training camp, and he didn’t again last Monday.
As first reported by Brian McIntyre of Yahoo Sports, $3 million of Peppers’ 2013 base salary of $12.9 million is being converted into a bonus that can be prorated over the remaining years of his deal, through 2015.
The result is a savings under the Bears’ 2013 cap of $2 million, although Peppers’ cap numbers climb to $18.1 million for 2014 and $20.7 million in 2015. Barring another adjustment, Peppers’ future in Chicago beyond this season can reasonably be open to question.
But there may be another shoe to fall in the Peppers’ transaction.
Teams do not typically just adjust contracts as an exercise in math to give finance chief Cliff Stein something to do.
The Bears realized some cap savings with a contract revision for J’Marcus Webb, then released the tackle in their final cuts. The Peppers money adds to cap room the Bears were perilously short of and which previously precluded even considering.
What Emery said
Emery on July 24:
“I will tell you that where we’re at with our current salary cap and the room that we have in our cap in our efforts to put together a championship team in 2013, I do not anticipate that we will do any extensions of contracts during this season.”
The “room we have in our cap” has changed.
Emery on September 2:
“I said we were inclined not to. That doesn't mean we absolutely won't.”
Emery was clear on both occasions that the focus is on the 2013 season, not 2014 or contracts. The organization’s “inclination” has not changed, but a firm “no” was notably missing.