The Bears will need to restructure contracts to create more cap space -- and they could have those agreements already in place. The deals for Ifedi and Mingo would put them over the cap just more than a week after the new league year opened. With that in mind, it's clear the Bears are working with a different cap figure than what's known publicly.
Bears lead negotiator Joey Laine has a strong reputation for his work in carefully structuring contracts and reworking existing deals. The Bears also have a recent history of restructuring contracts, including those of edge rusher Khalil Mack, former offensive lineman Kyle Long and most recently offensive lineman Cody Whitehair.
Whitehair had his five-year deal restructured, with much of his base salary converted into bonuses. He was due $5.1 million in base salary this season. That figure is now $1.1 million, including $3.1 million in bonuses and a $4.2-million cap hit. Those figures were factored into the Bears' current cap space number.
There's more work to be done for Laine. The logical candidates for restructured contracts include defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and offensive lineman Charles Leno, whose deals runs through 2021. Another candidate is nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who's under contract through 2022. There are other minor moves that can be made to free up cap space.
The goal behind restructuring contracts is twofold. It will create more flexibility for additional roster moves. Beyond that, the Bears are hopeful to lock in top receiver Allen Robinson on a long-term extension. Robinson, 26, had 98 catches and seven touchdowns last season. His contract expires in March 2021.
Robinson signed with the Bears on a three-year, $42-million deal in 2018. It was a relative discount given that he was recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered with the Jaguars in their 2017 regular-season opener. The Bears were banking on Robinson returning to form, and he has done just that. Now they won't be able to secure him on a discount. Robinson could command a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $85 million, a source said.
Robinson tweeted a GIF of his excitement when receiver Amari Cooper agreed to a five-year, $100-million contract with the Cowboys. Robinson realized what it meant for his own market.
The Bears must be creative with their books to offer Robinson what he wants or he could become be a cap casualty after this season.