Bears have cash to spend in free agency

With the 2015 NFL salary cap set at $143.28 million, Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace will have roughly $24 million to spend in free agency this offseason.

The 2015 NFL salary cap was announced today at $143.28 million, a $10 million increase from 2014 and a $20 million increase since 2013.

Every NFL team except the St. Louis Rams carried over unused cap space from last season. That includes the Chicago Bears, who carried over more than $1.54 million from 2014, putting the club’s official 2015 adjusted salary cap at $145,168,435, per the NFLPA.

The Bears have roughly $116 million invested in 53 current players and just $105,005 in dead money. The team will need roughly $5 million for the draft class, putting their total expenditures at around $121 million. That would leave GM Ryan Pace more than $24 million to spend in free agency.

After a 5-11 season that unraveled at a rapid pace, holes litter Chicago’s roster, so expect Pace to exhaust his resources in free agency. The Bears will surely look very different next season.

The New England Patriots today placed the franchise tag on K Stephen Gostkowski, meaning safety Devin McCourty could hit the open market, assuming he doesn’t sign with the Patriots before the start of free agency next Tuesday, March 10. If McCourty becomes available, expect the Bears to make a strong push for one of the top safeties in the league, especially considering the weak crop of safeties in this year’s draft class.

Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh will also be available, as he was not tagged. Suh is expected to garner a contract in the ballpark of J.J. Watt’s $100 million deal, so he’s likely out of Chicago’s range. That said, there are always ways to clear more cap space, so if Pace wants to make a play for the biggest name on the market, he has the flexibility to do so.

Off the board are Kansas City Chiefs OLB Justin Houston, Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas and Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant, who were all hit with the franchise tag. Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay was slapped with the transitional tag.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.

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