The Bears have begun taking more concrete steps toward acquiring cash under the salary cap.
According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, they are looking into restructuring the contracts given to guard Cody Whitehair and to safety Eddie Jackson.
Jackson just received a four-year, $58.4 million deal last year and Whitehair is working on a five-year, $51.25 million contract he signed in September of 2019.
It's highly likely they'll look at other salaries to restructure, because there is savings potential in some others for 2021. They also could cut more players or extend their contracts and save money.
The Bears were $3.4 million over the cap on Thursday, according to Spotrac.com
Whitehair has a $6.5 million unguaranteed salary for 2021, some of which could be turned into prorated bonus money and applied to the cap over several years. With Jackson, there is a greater opportunity for savings with $8.9 in unguaranteed salary to restructure, per Overthecap.com.
They could pull back money by trading or cutting Akiem Hicks or Kyle Fuller, but the importance of those two on the defense might make a contract extension more likely.
In Hicks' case, he has $10.4 million in unguaranteed salary and an extension for several years would let them convert a huge amount of cash, but not as much as they'd save by cutting him.
Hicks had 3 1/2 sacks last year but none after Week 3. He also led them far and away in quarterback hits with 21, eight more than the next highest players. Hicks also led the Bears in penalties with 10.
Fuller has a $13 million salary this year but also already counts $6 million against the cap in prorated bonus. They'd save less by cutting him.
With both players it would be a matter of how much savings they could achieve and how long they want to extend the contract.
Khalil Mack has a big $17.05 million salary for this year but $16 million of it was already guaranteed.
Cutting tackle Bobby Massie saves the Bears $5.4 million and cutting Charles Leno Jr. saves $6.2 million but then they'd have no starting tackles other than who they might sign at a lower rate or draft. Germain Ifedi played tackle the final six games last year but he is a free agent.