2022 Salary Cap Outlook, v2 (PostPace)

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Moriarty wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 4:09 pm
The Cooler King wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:35 pm I honestly don't know how to respond to a hypothetical where slightly below average to average is 10x cost driver.

So I guess I won't.
Like I said, it's a silly exaggeration to prove a point. Most decisions aren't this clear-cut, or there'd be no arguing and no need for intelligent GMs. But it illustrates the underlying principles.

The bottom line is:
  • Player B is better than A, but not by a lot
  • Player B costs more than A, by a lot
  • Player A is a good value contract
  • Player B is a really bad value contract
Do you decide based on talent or by value?
Value IMO. Because now you haven't degraded your team but you have improved your ability to spend and improve elsewhere.
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Z Bear wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:50 pm The Bears absolutely can go after Devante Adams, they are not in that bad of a cap position. You can give Adams a 5 yr $25M per contract but only have it cost $10-15M against next years cap very easily. There are only a few players that have negative cap hits if cut or traded, so there is a ton of flexibility this offseason. Plus....the new regular TV and Sunday Ticket money is hitting in the next 3 years and the cap will go WAY up.

You can, but should you?

Suppose you give him (cap hits) of 10/29/29/29/29.

You're spending 10M on a season where you're clearly going nowhere with or without him
You're backloading your contract so it costs less in non-compete seasons and more in compete seasons
You're getting his remaining good years mostly in non-compete seasons and getting his older years in your likely 'trying to compete' seasons


Unless you've got other overriding concerns (there won't be any good FA WRs in 2023 or 24, you think Fields will be crushed by not having an elite target in 2022, etc), all of those are generally contrary to what you want to be doing with a rebuild.


Now, if you had enough money free that you could front-load his contract (overpay in a pointless season, underpay in a go for it season), that would alter the equation considerably. I don't know if you can really free that much up, though (there is actually very little you can easily cut beyond what I've already done). Also, not sure when WRs usually start tailing off.
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dplank wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:42 pm
This right here. I keep reading your posts Cooler and you know I respect you and your knowledge in this area, but this truth right here just keeps surfacing and I can't get past it. I know you said that Pace could've pushed a few more contacts out to accommodate Fuller, but there is a limit to that and each time you do it you take that option away going forward and continue to build up 'bad debt'. I mean, I remember some of you guys warning us ahead of the last FA cycle not to get our hopes up because we couldn't afford any of the top players. That was real, and you were right - to now hear from some of the same voices that we shouldn't be overly concerned with cap management just doesn't make any sense to me at all. And before you point to the unexpected cap drop due to Covid, I'd point out that other teams managed to keep key players and sign high priced free agents - just not us. It matters, clearly it matters as we just saw it's impact during our last free agency cycle - we signed a bunch of low cost bottom feeders while cutting our LT and CB1 just so we could make the cap. And now, looking forward to this cycle, we appear to be in a very similar position - we have a MASSIVE need for a WR1, Adams will likely be available, but we can't afford to go after him.
I'll always try to be clear about should verse could. Could is pretty clear cut. Should is a lot more complex and involves a lot of uncertainties. So please don't misinterpret.

That said. I think teams generally under-do it. Some know exactly what they're doing I presume. They're running small caps so they contribute less to the revenue share. They're the free rider. They can tell their fans they "don't have space". Being the free rider doesnt benefit the roster though. So as a fan I probably want to be a moderate over spender and use deferral techniques to do so. The downside is probably once every 10 years where there is an unexpected cap contraction.
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The Cooler King wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:19 pmPerfect can't get in the way of good.
Never heard that phrase before. Simple, yet profound.

Excellent play. :thumbsup:
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The Cooler King wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:11 pm
dplank wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 3:42 pm
This right here. I keep reading your posts Cooler and you know I respect you and your knowledge in this area, but this truth right here just keeps surfacing and I can't get past it. I know you said that Pace could've pushed a few more contacts out to accommodate Fuller, but there is a limit to that and each time you do it you take that option away going forward and continue to build up 'bad debt'. I mean, I remember some of you guys warning us ahead of the last FA cycle not to get our hopes up because we couldn't afford any of the top players. That was real, and you were right - to now hear from some of the same voices that we shouldn't be overly concerned with cap management just doesn't make any sense to me at all. And before you point to the unexpected cap drop due to Covid, I'd point out that other teams managed to keep key players and sign high priced free agents - just not us. It matters, clearly it matters as we just saw it's impact during our last free agency cycle - we signed a bunch of low cost bottom feeders while cutting our LT and CB1 just so we could make the cap. And now, looking forward to this cycle, we appear to be in a very similar position - we have a MASSIVE need for a WR1, Adams will likely be available, but we can't afford to go after him.
I'll always try to be clear about should verse could. Could is pretty clear cut. Should is a lot more complex and involves a lot of uncertainties. So please don't misinterpret.

That said. I think teams generally under-do it. Some know exactly what they're doing I presume. They're running small caps so they contribute less to the revenue share. They're the free rider. They can tell their fans they "don't have space". Being the free rider doesnt benefit the roster though. So as a fan I probably want to be a moderate over spender and use deferral techniques to do so. The downside is probably once every 10 years where there is an unexpected cap contraction.
To me, it's entirely situational. You mortgage the future when you're ready to make your run. When you're not there yet, you protect the future cap space so you can spend at will when you are. Maybe that's a black and white oversimplification. But it's the fundamental point.
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Mikefive wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 9:27 pm
The Cooler King wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 5:11 pm
I'll always try to be clear about should verse could. Could is pretty clear cut. Should is a lot more complex and involves a lot of uncertainties. So please don't misinterpret.

That said. I think teams generally under-do it. Some know exactly what they're doing I presume. They're running small caps so they contribute less to the revenue share. They're the free rider. They can tell their fans they "don't have space". Being the free rider doesnt benefit the roster though. So as a fan I probably want to be a moderate over spender and use deferral techniques to do so. The downside is probably once every 10 years where there is an unexpected cap contraction.
To me, it's entirely situational. You mortgage the future when you're ready to make your run. When you're not there yet, you protect the future cap space so you can spend at will when you are. Maybe that's a black and white oversimplification. But it's the fundamental point.
Or you waste talented years because you're trying to prove you're ready to go in, but don't get there because you left money on the table.

Or when you finally have all that money you struggle to spend it efficiently because it's such a large number.

The one thing us, spending money doesn't preclude you from doing the good efficient cap things mainly draft well. But it sets you up on a dual course.
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I hear you, I guess I lean a little the other way but see your point as well.
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My two cents is we trade down like crazy for depth. Spend money on value WR and D options.

2022 isn’t our year, but we can get pieces on O for long term and maybe a few on D. Quinn, Mack, and Roq with others can keep D going enough to keep fans in the seats. Get finances and contracts to move right way for 2023 and if there’s a window we strike.
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The Cooler King wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 1:59 pm Being on year 2 of a 1st round QB matters too. A team like the Cardinals for example (who have pretty broadly a similar cap situation as Bears) know they have a QB contract looming. Little specifics like that matter. Even using the long term 3 year outlook I'm using Fields contract falls out of view. Closer I get to that date and the more I know about Fields development the more I can revise my outlook and adjust my agressiveness or plan to keep my powder clear.
Aaaarrrgggh *bangs head against desk*

This is a completely backwards way of looking at things. Having a rookie contract QB rather than a vet on $25-40m means that there's less cap space used on QBs but it doesn't magically make the overall situation better. We're in a poor cap position because the amount of cap we're using (roster and dead space) doesn't reflect the quality of the team, i.e. we're using a lot for a roster lacking talent and full of holes.

But even that misses the point. We all know that the cap is flexible between years but that doesn't mean that we should be more "aggressive" in bringing it forward to make the roster stronger now. Proper cap efficiency is using the minimum required to achieve your goals in order to maintain flexibility for the future. If we don't roll over cap now (either in pure rollover or by front loading some contracts) we're going to be screwed if/when Fields needs a market rate QB deal. That's when you go from the Superbowl winning contender Seahawks to the maybe win one playoff game Seahawks. I called it a while back but let's look at the Chiefs once the impact of Mahomes' deal really kicks in (one year after the first big cap hit in my estimation, but perhaps from the first year).

So rather than try and rack up meaningless wins in seasons where we're not competing, we set smarter objectives for the next few years. I don't have it all worked out but they would be something like:

1. Identify and keep talent.

This means we work out a way to keep Smith. I think some frontloading will be required here so we don't have a point where he's taking up huge chunks of the cap at the same time Fields is, but Pace's previous misdemeanours mean this might be difficult. Daniels is another player to make a decision on and I'd like to keep him but he'll be expensive so there needs to be a consideration of his value above a middling vet or going back to the draft. The oline is a weakness so that might change the consideration but ultimate it comes down to what his agent asks.

2. Improve the roster for when we're ready to win.

The draft is the best way and helps the cap. Free agency is also important but given talent is expensive I'd advocate 2022 being a bit of a clearout year and therefore not signing players to big contracts as both 2022 and 2023 aren't serious super bowl contending years (more on that later). What I would like to see is multi year deals of players with upside that don't tie us down to big later cap hits. Think the Pernell McPhee deal (but hoping they don't get injured) or the Hicks signing but to a four year deal rather than the two year one he initially got. I accept that with someone like Hicks you'd need to pay and/or guarantee more to get them to commit to longer but I maintain that's doable. And if anyone thinks I'm wrong to mention McPhee, I still maintain it was a good signing. Mainly this is because of the intent. Pace took a risk on a player that wasn't a proven starter and had some injury risk with him, and that's what kept the overall numbers down. It wasn't impossible that he could have stayed healthier for longer and as such there was a real chance of him outplaying the contract. As it turns out we still got a very good year out of in 2015 (9 tackles for loss and 18 QB hits to go with the 6 sacks) and then paid $7.5m for a situational pass rusher (well, ish) with 4 sacks, 5 TFL and 9/11 QB hits in each of 2016 and 2017. The calculation there is we got a $15m year for $7.5m in 2015 and then had to pay $7.5 in each of the later two years for a, what, $3/4m player. Maybe it didn't work out but there are many worse contracts!

3. Develop the players, particularly Fields, into postseason winners.

This is where the overall planning comes in. Ideally I'd want my rookie QB to make the playoffs in year 1, win a game in year 2 and then compete in years 3-5 (at least). But for various reasons year 1 didn't happen for Fields and in year 2 I feel the balance of future success means that a quick cap reset improves our prospects better than pushing to get Fields into the playoffs in 2022. For me the plan now should be:

2022. Get Fields completely settled as an NFL QB with at least a decent line and some time to throw. The running game is fine and receivers we just have to roll with. Big questions on defence whether we can be good enough to make a wildcard spot even after trading Mack and Quinn but getting something for them is just more important to me so we do it and hope.
2023. Make moves to make a playoff spot an expectation, without throwing everything at it.
2024. Assuming we make the playoffs in 2023 we bring forward the desire to compete rather than just win a game, by completely filling out the roster without signing fee agents to top 5/top 10 for the position deals.

After that, again assuming all goes well, I'd try to plot a lower cap year where we reduce expectation of competing in order for a soft reload again. Maybe around letting an ageing vet go or not resigning a talent to an eye watering deal. This needs to become an infrequent, but regular feature if we have Fields on a good QB contract. But in doing so we have the option of being like the Brady Patriots, consistently competing rather than a cycle of boom and bust. Harder to achieve as Brady took below market deals as well as being a top 5 all time QB talent (he's the GOAT because he worked out that taking less salary was the key to success imo) but it's the only way outside of riding improbable luck to get multiple rings.

Anyway, George, give me a call.
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They key is to not over pay mediocre talent, like we did Cody Whitehair. Paying an average player top 5 money in the league it what kills your cap. My philosophy is you should be letting average players walk unless they are willing to take a below average deal (say average of 15th to 20th highest paid at the position). James Daniels and Bilal Nichols are both perfect examples of this. Both are decent players, not great but certainly not horrible either. Do you think it is a good idea to pay these two $7M to $10M a year for average play? I do not and think their play can be replaced by a 2nd day draft pick for much cheaper. You top paid players need to be elite or else your cap will suffer.
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What needs to be factored in is that what might be top 5 money at the start of a long-term contract would be expected to be 15th to 20th at the position by the end. (Note, I'm not arguing whether Cody Whitehair was overpaid.)

Also, we shouldn't overlook the fact that the pandemic had a big hit with cap planning because for once, not only did the cap not go up, it actually fell. No-one could have predicted this and it hit some teams more than others, purely based on luck and where their cap organisation was at the time. Teams had to rejig a number of contracts to push numbers into later years that otherwise wouldn't have been necessary.
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dplank wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:40 am
Ah but he didn’t apply the “Nagy constant” in his calculations.
-Poor play calling
-Poor discipline/too many penalties
Both play a critical part in last seasons record.
Also schedule last season vs next season needs to be taken into account.

A very interesting chart but it doesn’t tell the whole picture, it’s too simplified.
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Z Bear wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:59 am They key is to not over pay mediocre talent, like we did Cody Whitehair. Paying an average player top 5 money in the league it what kills your cap. My philosophy is you should be letting average players walk unless they are willing to take a below average deal (say average of 15th to 20th highest paid at the position). James Daniels and Bilal Nichols are both perfect examples of this. Both are decent players, not great but certainly not horrible either. Do you think it is a good idea to pay these two $7M to $10M a year for average play? I do not and think their play can be replaced by a 2nd day draft pick for much cheaper. You top paid players need to be elite or else your cap will suffer.
Whitehair was 26 years old and coming off of a pro-bowl year. His contract at the time did put him in the top 10 paid at his position if I recall, which given the circumstances, seemed commensurate.

Everyone always complains that the Bears:
1 - don't draft well
2 - when they do, don't do enough to keep their own talent

This assumption that replacement level players are just everywhere is confusing.
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wab wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:18 am
Z Bear wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:59 am They key is to not over pay mediocre talent, like we did Cody Whitehair. Paying an average player top 5 money in the league it what kills your cap. My philosophy is you should be letting average players walk unless they are willing to take a below average deal (say average of 15th to 20th highest paid at the position). James Daniels and Bilal Nichols are both perfect examples of this. Both are decent players, not great but certainly not horrible either. Do you think it is a good idea to pay these two $7M to $10M a year for average play? I do not and think their play can be replaced by a 2nd day draft pick for much cheaper. You top paid players need to be elite or else your cap will suffer.
Whitehair was 26 years old and coming off of a pro-bowl year. His contract at the time did put him in the top 10 paid at his position if I recall, which given the circumstances, seemed commensurate.

Everyone always complains that the Bears:
1 - don't draft well
2 - when they do, don't do enough to keep their own talent

This assumption that replacement level players are just everywhere is confusing.

Part of the problem with that, though, is that Pro Bowls are just complete bullshit. Voters are biased and stupid - players included. Maybe even players more so than fans.
Reputation (for past accomplishments) counts way more in voting than it should. How good your team was that season counts way more than it should. Not to mention getting in because 5 other guys ahead of you didn't want to risk injury in an idiotically pointless game.

In 2018, the Bears got a million turnovers, won 12 games because of it, and had 8 Pro Bowlers (Trubisky, Leno, Whitehair, Hicks, Mack, Fuller, Jackson, Cohen).

Are those really Pro Bowl talents? For 5/8 of them, 2018 was their only appearance ever. Did they deserve to be there? Or did they get in because they were above average on a team with a ton of wins?


Back to Whitehair specifically, PFF had his seasons at that point as 88, 71, 75 (stellar, fine, fine), which I think paints a far more accurate picture of his performance.

Whitehair certainly was a guy you wanted back, but I think looking at him as "coming off a Pro Bowl year" is overly generous.


The thing about Whitehair's contract (and Goldman's and Jackson's and Mack's) is that they were all long and super-heavily backloaded. They were all designed to be cheap in 19/20/21 when the team was supposedly going to be going for it and ridiculously expensive after. They were designed to be cut in around 2022.

On the one hand, backloading when you're going all in makes sense as a strategy.
However, Pace went all in on a team that just wasn't very good at all. (8-8, 8-8, 6-11, 0 playoff wins)
I also generally hate contracts for good players that are designed to end in cuts instead of FA walks, because you rob yourself of the comp picks that walking generates


Well, I rambled a lot. But some useful thoughts in there, I think.

Cliffs:
ProBowls are a bad metric
Whitehair was good, but not great
His contract, like many others, was backloaded and designed to be blown up in 2022
Last edited by Moriarty on Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Z Bear wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 7:59 am I do not and think their play can be replaced by a 2nd day draft pick for much cheaper.
I mean that's a pretty ridiculous way to look at it. There is still a huge miss rate on draft picks. And you're only ever going to have so many picks that fall in a valuable range.
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dplank wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:40 am
I think that's a really accurate representation of where the Bears are right now.
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malk wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:09 am
Aaaarrrgggh *bangs head against desk*

This is a completely backwards way of looking at things. Having a rookie contract QB rather than a vet on $25-40m means that there's less cap space used on QBs but it doesn't magically make the overall situation better. We're in a poor cap position because the amount of cap we're using (roster and dead space) doesn't reflect the quality of the team, i.e. we're using a lot for a roster lacking talent and full of holes.

It means exactly what I said it means. All thing equal (Bears and Cards have very similar cap inputs, across various metrics) the one who is about to pay for a franchise QB has less flexibility.

But even that misses the point. We all know that the cap is flexible between years but that doesn't mean that we should be more "aggressive" in bringing it forward to make the roster stronger now. Proper cap efficiency is using the minimum required to achieve your goals in order to maintain flexibility for the future. If we don't roll over cap now (either in pure rollover or by front loading some contracts) we're going to be screwed if/when Fields needs a market rate QB deal. That's when you go from the Superbowl winning contender Seahawks to the maybe win one playoff game Seahawks. I called it a while back but let's look at the Chiefs once the impact of Mahomes' deal really kicks in (one year after the first big cap hit in my estimation, but perhaps from the first year).

The issue isn't back or front loading. The issue is that a single year view is just not informative enough because cap fluctuates and varies a lot. It's not about backloading. It's just about easing YoY variance in cap utilization.

So rather than try and rack up meaningless wins in seasons where we're not competing, we set smarter objectives for the next few years. I don't have it all worked out but they would be something like:

I think you should always be trying to win games. No wasted wins IMO. If your waiting for a moment to strategically strike you're just wasting years. There is a lot of parity and uncertainty, you should be continually pushing improvement.

1. Identify and keep talent.

This means we work out a way to keep Smith. I think some frontloading will be required here so we don't have a point where he's taking up huge chunks of the cap at the same time Fields is, but Pace's previous misdemeanours mean this might be difficult. Daniels is another player to make a decision on and I'd like to keep him but he'll be expensive so there needs to be a consideration of his value above a middling vet or going back to the draft. The oline is a weakness so that might change the consideration but ultimate it comes down to what his agent asks.

Your focus in front/backloading is almost entirely meaningless. That cap has a rollover feature and numerous deferral techniques. What matters is total cash/year and guarantees.

2. Improve the roster for when we're ready to win.

The draft is the best way and helps the cap. Free agency is also important but given talent is expensive I'd advocate 2022 being a bit of a clearout year and therefore not signing players to big contracts as both 2022 and 2023 aren't serious super bowl contending years (more on that later). What I would like to see is multi year deals of players with upside that don't tie us down to big later cap hits. Think the Pernell McPhee deal (but hoping they don't get injured) or the Hicks signing but to a four year deal rather than the two year one he initially got. I accept that with someone like Hicks you'd need to pay and/or guarantee more to get them to commit to longer but I maintain that's doable. And if anyone thinks I'm wrong to mention McPhee, I still maintain it was a good signing. Mainly this is because of the intent. Pace took a risk on a player that wasn't a proven starter and had some injury risk with him, and that's what kept the overall numbers down. It wasn't impossible that he could have stayed healthier for longer and as such there was a real chance of him outplaying the contract. As it turns out we still got a very good year out of in 2015 (9 tackles for loss and 18 QB hits to go with the 6 sacks) and then paid $7.5m for a situational pass rusher (well, ish) with 4 sacks, 5 TFL and 9/11 QB hits in each of 2016 and 2017. The calculation there is we got a $15m year for $7.5m in 2015 and then had to pay $7.5 in each of the later two years for a, what, $3/4m player. Maybe it didn't work out but there are many worse contracts!

Well I agree on broadly the type of FA target. And agree process wise McPhee was a good signing. I have my eye on who might be ascending FA targfets. Basically don't want them signing any multi year deal where it takes them past their age 30/31 season.

You really gotta drop this Hicks 2 v 4 year example though.

A real NFL player explaining they don't want to give up years, all else the same. There is a real market with market actors with opposite motivations to the team.

3. Develop the players, particularly Fields, into postseason winners.

This is where the overall planning comes in. Ideally I'd want my rookie QB to make the playoffs in year 1, win a game in year 2 and then compete in years 3-5 (at least). But for various reasons year 1 didn't happen for Fields and in year 2 I feel the balance of future success means that a quick cap reset improves our prospects better than pushing to get Fields into the playoffs in 2022. For me the plan now should be:

2022. Get Fields completely settled as an NFL QB with at least a decent line and some time to throw. The running game is fine and receivers we just have to roll with. Big questions on defence whether we can be good enough to make a wildcard spot even after trading Mack and Quinn but getting something for them is just more important to me so we do it and hope.
2023. Make moves to make a playoff spot an expectation, without throwing everything at it.
2024. Assuming we make the playoffs in 2023 we bring forward the desire to compete rather than just win a game, by completely filling out the roster without signing fee agents to top 5/top 10 for the position deals.

You're putting way too much effort into trying to plan out a schedule. The goal needs to be continual improvement and supporting Fields as much as possible. Do that and hopefully at some point the big jump will occur, but you can't really predict it.

As far as supporting Fields goes, right now the WR Corp is a much bigger issue. Fields needs weapons. Line needs some care, but you could give Fields 5 All Pros and he isn't going to maximize his potential because no one will be open. Unfortunately there will be some judgment calls to make, but WR is a bigger need right now.

After that, again assuming all goes well, I'd try to plot a lower cap year where we reduce expectation of competing in order for a soft reload again. Maybe around letting an ageing vet go or not resigning a talent to an eye watering deal. This needs to become an infrequent, but regular feature if we have Fields on a good QB contract. But in doing so we have the option of being like the Brady Patriots, consistently competing rather than a cycle of boom and bust. Harder to achieve as Brady took below market deals as well as being a top 5 all time QB talent (he's the GOAT because he worked out that taking less salary was the key to success imo) but it's the only way outside of riding improbable luck to get multiple rings.

Anyway, George, give me a call.
I used to be something of a reload guy, but honestly reloads should really only occur in extenuating circumstances. Now broadly, yea you gotta make tough vet cut calls and stuff and make efficient spend decisions, but there is just soooo much flexibility. If Fields hits and signs a mega deal we'll just enter an era of being more agressive with deferral cap management, but the ability to defer doesn't go away so it doesn't necessitate you ever really catchup/reload. Best case scenario is a situation where you've done so well at things like draft that you naturally reload because that's just how your roster is setup. But I think sometimes people think those actions have to be like pre-earned. Which isnt true. Utlizing the cap in non-efficient matters doesn't disable your ability to do the good efficient things. It just gives you more options to keep competitive rosters on the field while pursuing both tracks.
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Z Bear wrote: Thu Jan 13, 2022 11:55 am Your cap room is the best way to judge the talent you can acquire. The Bears really need to bring in talent on offense, especially at WR which is an expensive position. The Bears are not in a bad situation this year but there needs to be an adjustment from the money spent on defense to offense so the O can get more talented.
That's only partially true. It assumes perfect information - which is not close to true. If acquisition of talent is that transparent (e.g. you get what you pay for), then draft and FA busts wouldn't be so prevalent.
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Is it just me, or are there other people who sort of think that the next generation Oline is mostly on board? At most a Center away?
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Moriarty wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:37 am
dplank wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 8:40 am
I think that's a really accurate representation of where the Bears are right now.
I think his scale is too weighted to draft IMO. Draft capital is generally a long term building block, but then he's also using short term cap number in that resource with an adjustment I think for ability to prorare bonuses. So the Bears have okay cap space, but not a ton of ability to prorare bonuses.

In thr context of thr spending strength for many of those teams just being the ability to "kick thee can", does that make you feel better?
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IE wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:47 am Is it just me, or are there other people who sort of think that the next generation Oline is mostly on board? At most a Center away?
I have hopes that's (partially) true, but it's based on a small sample size for the pieces in question, and presupposes both that 1) the blocks in place are as quality as we think and 2) that the Bears add at least one more piece (quite likely two).
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Yea the more I look at that chart, the more I think that composite scale is messed up. Defintiely too draft heavy and too favorable towards bonus restructures being a net good thing.

Actually a great example of the can/should dynamic. I can restructure roster bonuses, but I should restructure roster bonuses* and spend that cap space if I have strong future cap space.

*you actually should always restructure roster bonuses. Spending the space is a separate issue.
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thunderspirit wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:02 am
IE wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:47 am Is it just me, or are there other people who sort of think that the next generation Oline is mostly on board? At most a Center away?
I have hopes that's (partially) true, but it's based on a small sample size for the pieces in question, and presupposes both that 1) the blocks in place are as quality as we think and 2) that the Bears add at least one more piece (quite likely two).
Yeah - agreed. Nothing is certain, but we can assume certain pieces are in place and take them off the table for the most part from acquisition discussion. When people start talking about moving Borom or Jenkins to G... they're adding complexity and cost for basically no solid reason. It is weird.
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IE wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:47 am Is it just me, or are there other people who sort of think that the next generation Oline is mostly on board? At most a Center away?
I think we have at least 2 average tackles. That they'll be cheap is nice.

C needs an upgrade. Big decision on Daniels and Whitehair probably shouldn't be around for long.

So the whole middle could realistically look different by week 1. Jenkins/Borom I'm hopeful, but needs to be proven.
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The Cooler King wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:06 am
IE wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:47 am Is it just me, or are there other people who sort of think that the next generation Oline is mostly on board? At most a Center away?
I think we have at least 2 average tackles. That they'll be cheap is nice.

C needs an upgrade. Big decision on Daniels and Whitehair probably shouldn't be around for long.

So the whole middle could realistically look different by week 1. Jenkins/Borom I'm hopeful, but needs to be proven.
It's more about finding out what we have in these two OTs in the immediate term before going out and looking for others. If they both prove to be good players then spending time and financial resources looking elsewhere would be a waste. If one, other or both prove not to be any good then you can seek an upgrade the next season. The frustration is that we didn't get an opportunity to make enough of an assessment of them this season due to injuries and obduracy.

In all honesty, the same can be said for Whitehair. He's under contract and played better before Nagy arrived on the scene. Let's see how he gets on in a different scheme under a new coach before we start predicting any decisions on him. He's far from old for a lineman. Daniels is the only one where an immediate assessment is necessary, simply because he's a free agent. His age more so than his recent performance provides the best reason for resigning him.

Both Whitehair and Daniels have experience at center, which provides the option of finding either a center or a guard to replace Mustipher as a starter. Ultimately the new coaches need to have an open competition for places though. I still believe that Bars being in the lineup this year ahead of Mustipher would have strengthened the line, but Nagy & co were clearly not willing to make changes despite the latter's sub-par play. Bringing in competition can only be good for driving up standards, but you don't need to spend large sums to do that. Next season needs to be all about evaluation.
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The Cooler King wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:43 am
malk wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 5:09 am
Aaaarrrgggh *bangs head against desk*

This is a completely backwards way of looking at things. Having a rookie contract QB rather than a vet on $25-40m means that there's less cap space used on QBs but it doesn't magically make the overall situation better. We're in a poor cap position because the amount of cap we're using (roster and dead space) doesn't reflect the quality of the team, i.e. we're using a lot for a roster lacking talent and full of holes.

It means exactly what I said it means. All thing equal (Bears and Cards have very similar cap inputs, across various metrics) the one who is about to pay for a franchise QB has less flexibility.

But even that misses the point. We all know that the cap is flexible between years but that doesn't mean that we should be more "aggressive" in bringing it forward to make the roster stronger now. Proper cap efficiency is using the minimum required to achieve your goals in order to maintain flexibility for the future. If we don't roll over cap now (either in pure rollover or by front loading some contracts) we're going to be screwed if/when Fields needs a market rate QB deal. That's when you go from the Superbowl winning contender Seahawks to the maybe win one playoff game Seahawks. I called it a while back but let's look at the Chiefs once the impact of Mahomes' deal really kicks in (one year after the first big cap hit in my estimation, but perhaps from the first year).

The issue isn't back or front loading. The issue is that a single year view is just not informative enough because cap fluctuates and varies a lot. It's not about backloading. It's just about easing YoY variance in cap utilization.

So rather than try and rack up meaningless wins in seasons where we're not competing, we set smarter objectives for the next few years. I don't have it all worked out but they would be something like:

I think you should always be trying to win games. No wasted wins IMO. If your waiting for a moment to strategically strike you're just wasting years. There is a lot of parity and uncertainty, you should be continually pushing improvement.

1. Identify and keep talent.

This means we work out a way to keep Smith. I think some frontloading will be required here so we don't have a point where he's taking up huge chunks of the cap at the same time Fields is, but Pace's previous misdemeanours mean this might be difficult. Daniels is another player to make a decision on and I'd like to keep him but he'll be expensive so there needs to be a consideration of his value above a middling vet or going back to the draft. The oline is a weakness so that might change the consideration but ultimate it comes down to what his agent asks.

Your focus in front/backloading is almost entirely meaningless. That cap has a rollover feature and numerous deferral techniques. What matters is total cash/year and guarantees.

2. Improve the roster for when we're ready to win.

The draft is the best way and helps the cap. Free agency is also important but given talent is expensive I'd advocate 2022 being a bit of a clearout year and therefore not signing players to big contracts as both 2022 and 2023 aren't serious super bowl contending years (more on that later). What I would like to see is multi year deals of players with upside that don't tie us down to big later cap hits. Think the Pernell McPhee deal (but hoping they don't get injured) or the Hicks signing but to a four year deal rather than the two year one he initially got. I accept that with someone like Hicks you'd need to pay and/or guarantee more to get them to commit to longer but I maintain that's doable. And if anyone thinks I'm wrong to mention McPhee, I still maintain it was a good signing. Mainly this is because of the intent. Pace took a risk on a player that wasn't a proven starter and had some injury risk with him, and that's what kept the overall numbers down. It wasn't impossible that he could have stayed healthier for longer and as such there was a real chance of him outplaying the contract. As it turns out we still got a very good year out of in 2015 (9 tackles for loss and 18 QB hits to go with the 6 sacks) and then paid $7.5m for a situational pass rusher (well, ish) with 4 sacks, 5 TFL and 9/11 QB hits in each of 2016 and 2017. The calculation there is we got a $15m year for $7.5m in 2015 and then had to pay $7.5 in each of the later two years for a, what, $3/4m player. Maybe it didn't work out but there are many worse contracts!

Well I agree on broadly the type of FA target. And agree process wise McPhee was a good signing. I have my eye on who might be ascending FA targfets. Basically don't want them signing any multi year deal where it takes them past their age 30/31 season.

You really gotta drop this Hicks 2 v 4 year example though.

A real NFL player explaining they don't want to give up years, all else the same. There is a real market with market actors with opposite motivations to the team.

3. Develop the players, particularly Fields, into postseason winners.

This is where the overall planning comes in. Ideally I'd want my rookie QB to make the playoffs in year 1, win a game in year 2 and then compete in years 3-5 (at least). But for various reasons year 1 didn't happen for Fields and in year 2 I feel the balance of future success means that a quick cap reset improves our prospects better than pushing to get Fields into the playoffs in 2022. For me the plan now should be:

2022. Get Fields completely settled as an NFL QB with at least a decent line and some time to throw. The running game is fine and receivers we just have to roll with. Big questions on defence whether we can be good enough to make a wildcard spot even after trading Mack and Quinn but getting something for them is just more important to me so we do it and hope.
2023. Make moves to make a playoff spot an expectation, without throwing everything at it.
2024. Assuming we make the playoffs in 2023 we bring forward the desire to compete rather than just win a game, by completely filling out the roster without signing fee agents to top 5/top 10 for the position deals.

You're putting way too much effort into trying to plan out a schedule. The goal needs to be continual improvement and supporting Fields as much as possible. Do that and hopefully at some point the big jump will occur, but you can't really predict it.

As far as supporting Fields goes, right now the WR Corp is a much bigger issue. Fields needs weapons. Line needs some care, but you could give Fields 5 All Pros and he isn't going to maximize his potential because no one will be open. Unfortunately there will be some judgment calls to make, but WR is a bigger need right now.

After that, again assuming all goes well, I'd try to plot a lower cap year where we reduce expectation of competing in order for a soft reload again. Maybe around letting an ageing vet go or not resigning a talent to an eye watering deal. This needs to become an infrequent, but regular feature if we have Fields on a good QB contract. But in doing so we have the option of being like the Brady Patriots, consistently competing rather than a cycle of boom and bust. Harder to achieve as Brady took below market deals as well as being a top 5 all time QB talent (he's the GOAT because he worked out that taking less salary was the key to success imo) but it's the only way outside of riding improbable luck to get multiple rings.

Anyway, George, give me a call.
I used to be something of a reload guy, but honestly reloads should really only occur in extenuating circumstances. Now broadly, yea you gotta make tough vet cut calls and stuff and make efficient spend decisions, but there is just soooo much flexibility. If Fields hits and signs a mega deal we'll just enter an era of being more agressive with deferral cap management, but the ability to defer doesn't go away so it doesn't necessitate you ever really catchup/reload. Best case scenario is a situation where you've done so well at things like draft that you naturally reload because that's just how your roster is setup. But I think sometimes people think those actions have to be like pre-earned. Which isnt true. Utlizing the cap in non-efficient matters doesn't disable your ability to do the good efficient things. It just gives you more options to keep competitive rosters on the field while pursuing both tracks.
This is a really really good post.
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Cooler, in terms of a good way to view "cap/team health", what do you think of this metric?

Place a numerical value on each of the 53 roster slots, so that they roughly represent that avg cost for those positions in comparison to one another. i.e., QB1 has a value of 20. RB1 has a value of 8. QB2 has a value of 4. LT has a value of 14. Edge rusher has a value of 15. etc etc. These values are your constants, they apply for every team. You can effectively derive the values here by looking at the franchise tag numbers for each position.

Then check how many positions need to be filled during that off season cycle to complete your 53 and for each position that needs filled, sum the total position values. So if you have 51 players under contract, and the only two positions you need to fill are RB1 and QB2, this value = 12. Then divide your total available cap space by that value.

Do this for every team, teams with the highest number are in the best cap position for that particular year. This method accounts for available cap space relative to the number, and relative cost/value, of the positions that need to be filled with that cap space. Obviously imperfect but gets a decent swag I think?

You could probably do some adjustments to this to include draft capital into the mix, but I wouldn't weight it too heavily as you never know if a pick is going to even make the roster. You could reasonably assume any picks R1-R3 will at least take a roster spot if you wanted to try and include draft capital in some way.
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The Cooler King wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:49 am
Moriarty wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:37 am

I think that's a really accurate representation of where the Bears are right now.
I think his scale is too weighted to draft IMO. Draft capital is generally a long term building block, but then he's also using short term cap number in that resource with an adjustment I think for ability to prorare bonuses. So the Bears have okay cap space, but not a ton of ability to prorare bonuses.

In thr context of thr spending strength for many of those teams just being the ability to "kick thee can", does that make you feel better?
Eh. Not especially.

I haven't looked at the details of how they set up the metrics, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if they could be tweaked and improved.

Nonetheless, there's no getting around the facts that:
  • The Bears were a bad team last year (26th) https://www.nfl.com/standings/league/2021/REG
    (and meaningless late season wins once again made it look better than it was)
  • The Bears have terrible draft resources to help fix things (29th, nearly half the league median, and about 1/6 of what the Jets have) https://www.tankathon.com/nfl/power_rankings
  • The Bears are in a below average cap situation (hard to quantify and online sources vary wildly, but let's guestimate around 17-20th)

There's no honest formula you can whip up where the Bears aren't going to end up solidly in The Bad Quadrant of the graph.
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Reading through here I see that I'm more bullish on Fields than most. He's shown enough that regardless of team building philosophy I'd want to operate in more of a "win now" mode. If I was George I would set the expectations for 2022 as top 10 team and 2023 as top-5 team. I think this offseason is a good time to sign guys to 3 year deals (what passes for a long term deal these days) with the thought that I could clear some of them out to make room for a big Fields contract or let them walk as part of a rebuild.
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