Jimmy Graham Move Frees Up Cap Space

The Bears get back some operating cash by floating $5.8 million of Jimmy Graham's salary over four future years as bonus money.
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The Bears seemed to be up against the cap and that isn't a good place to be as the season is about to start.

Jimmy Graham has provided some relief, or at least his contract did.

Graham's contract was restructured, according to a report by ESPN's Field Yates. Graham was in the final year of the contract and the Bears merely floated the rest of the money out over four void years from 2022-2025 so they could better absorb the cap hit.

The amount converted from salary was $5.825 million and that all became signing bonus money. The Bears were able to free up $4.66 million in cap space by making this move.

Graham had originally been due a $7 million salary for this year.

While some see this as a way of pushing off debt to the future and inevitably the future comes back to bite, it's a very common practice. Dak Prescott, Julio Jones and Carl Nassib also had this happen this week, according to Overthecap.com.

It's also such a small amount each year that with the salary cap likely to leap forward next year and in future years it becomes almost irrelevant.

It means the Bears have about $3.7 million in cap space available to finance any moves they must make during the season, like picking up replacement players. That figure is via Overthecap.com.

It might not sound like much cash but Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com reports there were 12 teams with worse cap situations after the Bears made this move.

It really says nothing about Graham other than they are able to retain his services for this season. If they decided they wanted him on the team in the future he would need to come up with another contract because there is no salary attached to those four new void years on the deal.

Graham turns 35 during this season and whether they would even want to retain him after signing Jesse James this year, drafting Cole Kmet last year and keeping Jesper Horsted on the active roster this year would seem doubtful, but GM Ryan Pace does have long ties to Graham from their Saints years together and Graham does still provide a good red zone target last year he caught a team-high nine touchdown passes, including one in the playoffs.

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