The Chicago Bears worked an option into Jay Cutler's seven-year, $126.7 million contract that allowed the club to restructure the deal in its first year if the team felt it needed more cap space. That's exactly what the team has done.
The NFLPA player salary database confirms that the Bears have converted $5 million of quarterback Jay Cutler's $22.5 million base salary into a signing bonus, creating $4 million in 2014 cap space.
Cutler's base salary drops to $17.5 million next year, with the signing bonus prorated to $1 million in each of the next five seasons. With the $1 million bonus, Cutler will cost $18.5 million toward the cap next season.
The Bears were reluctant to restructure, as the contract as initially drafted was essentially a three-year deal, with all of the guaranteed money paid out between 2014-2016. In 2017, the team could have cut Cutler without eating any dead money.
The club is now on the hook for at least $1 million through the 2018 season. The team currently has roughly $11.7 million in cap space. An estimated $5 million is earmarked for the draft class, giving GM Phil Emery nearly $7 million to work with in free agency.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.