In 2015, the Chicago Bears are projected to have a salary cap of $144,606,834, with total liabilities (or guaranteed money) of $136,298,355. For those of you doing the math (as most Bears fans are), that leaves exactly $8,309,479 in cap space. So how do Da Bears fare against the salary cap, both as players and as position groups?
The highest earning position group is the defensive line, projected to earn over $30 million in 2015 — unsurprisingly, considering the defensive line usually boasts at least one or two superstars. In comparison, the offensive line is projected to earn just under $20 million. The four quarterbacks, meanwhile, are projected to earn around $18.5 million, driven largely by Jay Cutler’s $16.5 million salary, making him the highest paid Bear.
Looking at this infographic, you can get an idea of how much most football players earn, superstars notwithstanding. For example, running backs not named Matt Forte earn around $500K-600K, and most offensive linemen and linebackers earn from $435K-$665K. While their paychecks are likely still higher than yours, most players aren’t earning millions of dollars per year like we tend to think they are.
In fact, when looking at how much each player makes in comparison to his teammates, some fans might be surprised to see that players they consider high performers actually appear underpaid. For example, fan favorite wide receiver Alshon Jeffery earns just shy of $1.5 million-not a low salary by any means, but not enough to make him one of the top 20 earners of the Bears. Plus, fellow wide receivers Eddie Royal (a recent acquisition) and Kevin White (a rookie) outearn Jeffery. Is that what you’d expect a player who received ten touchdowns with no turnovers last year to be paid?
Our research also revealed the projected salaries for 2016. At first glance, these might look alarmingly low. For example, safeties are projected to earn $12 million in 2015, but only $5.3 million in 2016; however, the 2016 projections don’t include players who aren’t under contract after 2015.
Of course, every Bears fan has his or her own idea of how the salary cap should be distributed among players. The truth is, there are a million different ways that the Bears could configure their salary cap and there’s no one distribution that can ultimately be deemed the most advantageous or successful … until the Bears win the Super Bowl, that is.