(670 The Score) The NFL informed its 32 teams Monday that the salary cap for the 2023 season will be set at $224.8 million, a record figure for the league. That's an increase of $16.6 million from 2022.
With that salary cap number in place and procedural spending already having begun, the Bears have an NFL-leading $98.6 million in estimated cap space heading into their pivotal offseason, according to Spotrac. Chicago also boasts eight selections in the 2023 NFL Draft, including the No. 1 overall pick.
It all means Bears general manager Ryan Poles is positioned for a potentially transformational offseason as he begins his second year leading the team.
“Whatever he’s going to do, I fully trust him,” Bears quarterback Justin Fields said of Poles. “His goal is to make the best team he can for us. I know he’s going to do a great job of that. We're going to get better and work in the offseason.”
The Bears have about $42 million more in available salary cap space than the Falcons, who have the second-most of any team in the NFL. The league average is $5.4 million per team in salary cap space, with 15 teams currently over the cap. Teams have until 3 p.m. CT on March 15 to get under the cap. That includes the rival Packers ($17.5 million over the cap) and the NFC North champion Vikings ($21.2 million over the cap).
The Bears find themselves in a similar position to where the Jaguars were in the 2022 offseason. Jacksonville was also coming off a 3-14 campaign, held the No. 1 overall pick and had ample salary cap space. The Jaguars then committed around $260 million, including $155 million guaranteed, in the first days of free agency to add playmakers like receiver Christian Kirk, receiver Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram for young quarterback Trevor Lawrence as well as protection in the form of five-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff.
The Jaguars enjoyed a turnaround in 2022, going 9-8 in the regular season, earning the AFC South title and advancing to the NFL’s divisional round.
Poles has noted his desire for calculated spending this offseason with the hope of building toward sustained success.
“The expectation is to take that next step,” Poles said. “I want to stair-step this thing to the top and then stay up there as absolutely long as possible.”
Team can begin negotiating contracts with veteran free agents beginning at 11 a.m. CT on March 13.
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.
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