The Chicago Bears are projected to have around $60 million in cap space this off-season. Only two other teams in the NFL will have more money to spend in free agency.
That's a very good thing for the Bears, whose roster is absolutely littered with holes, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
The Denver Broncos are Super Bowl champions due to a wealth of talent, much of which will soon hit free agency. In total, 25 Broncos will soon hit the open market. Here are the notable names on that list:
OLB Von Miller
ILB Danny Trevathan
ILB Brandon Marshall
DE Malik Jackson
S David Bruton
QB Brock Osweiler
RB C.J. Anderson
G Evan Mathis
RB Ronnie Hillman
DE Antonio Smith
K Brandon McManus
Everyone of those players was a key piece to Denver's championship run and all - except for Miller, who will very likely receive the franchise tag - will be available to the rest of the league once free agency begins on March 9.
The Broncos will obviously try to re-sign as many impact players as possible but that's going to be tough for GM John Elway, who will have roughly $8 million to spend in free agency. Tagging Miller will cost $15 million alone, so Elway is going to have go straight Houdini to fill out the rest of the roster.
In reality, Elway will be forced to let most of those big names walk.
That's great news for the Bears, who are in a unique position to raid Denver's cupboard, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
John Fox was a well-respected player's coach for the Broncos for four seasons. He has a relationship with nearly every Denver free agent, having either drafted or signed them during his four years in the Mile High City. For most of those players, Fox is the only other NFL head coach they've played for besides Gary Kubiak. And make no mistake, players love playing for Fox.
The Bears have needs at nearly every position on defense and you know Fox would love to get his hands on those Broncos studs. He wants that talent in Chicago but he'd also love to stick it to Elway, with whom he had a contentious parting.
So here we have a situation where the best defense in the NFL is about to be gutted, while the Bears have a ton of money to spend and their former head coach as leverage.
Fox is going to have a lot of influence in free agency this off-season, as he's known around the league as a head coach who treats his players well. That will mean even more with those soon-to-be-former Broncos, who know exactly what they're going to get if they come to Chicago.
For guys like Trevathan, Jackson and Bruton, there would be no guessing game in terms of the environment in the Bears locker room. They've played extensively under Fox and understand his philosophies and approach to the game. They had success under Fox - he brought them to the Super Bowl in 2013 - and are fully aware of his coaching pedigree and acumen, as well as his expectations.
The wild card here is defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who is widely regarded as one of the top defensive minds in the game. If Fox wasn't enough to bring those top-tier Broncos defenders to Chicago, then Fangio should put them over the top.
Additionally, the Bears are so loaded with cap space, they won't be asking anyone to take a discount. They'll be in a positioin to pay each free agent full market vaue and more, which is a huge bargaining chip.
Trevathan has already said he's willing to talk to the Bears due to the presence of Fox, so don't be surprised if a number of his teammates follow suit.
If Fox and GM Ryan Pace have their way, much of that Super Bowl defense will be playing in Chicago next season, which should immediately put the Bears in the playoff picture.null