11 best salary cap bargains for the Bears this season

The Chicago Bears roster has undergone plenty of changes this offseason. New general manager Ryan Poles has parted ways with aging veterans who carried big contracts and embraced the team’s youth while signing one-year, prove-it deals.

The Bears are in a good position with the salary cap. They have $20.2 million in available cap space, which ranks among the most in the league. A big factor in their cap flexibility has to do with the young talent on the roster that looks to be absolute bargains in 2022.

We’re taking a look at some of the best salary cap bargains for the Bears heading into the 2022 season.

QB Justin Fields

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The Bears are hoping they’ve found their franchise quarterback in Justin Fields. In a league where quarterbacks make up some of the top salaries, having a quarterback like Fields on a rookie contract is an absolute steal. Fields will have a $4.3 million cap hit in 2022, which ranks among the lowest cap hits for starting quarterbacks.

WR Darnell Mooney

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

  • 2022 salary cap hit. $965,513

  • Percent of cap: 0.46%

  • Position rank: 149th among WRs

Darnell Mooney is coming off an impressive second season where he eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards. Now, he’s the Bears’ WR1. Mooney will have a salary cap under $1 million — not even half a percent of the total cap — which is a steal for a top wide receiver that’s produced and who will be a focal point on offense.

CB Jaylon Johnson

AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

Jaylon Johnson has quietly established himself among the league’s up-and-coming cornerbacks. Johnson is entering his second season as the Bears’ top cornerback, where he is looking to take the next step forward in development. His $1.8 million cap hit doesn’t even account for a percent of Chicago’s salary cap, which is a steal among the NFL’s top cornerbacks.

EDGE Travis Gipson

AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson

  • 2022 salary cap hit. $976,418

  • Percent of cap: 0.47%

  • Position rank: 193rd among EDGE

Trevis Gipson is coming off an encouraging season where he logged seven sacks in relief of an injured Khalil Mack in the back half of the season. Now, he’s gearing up for a starting role in 2022, where his cap hit doesn’t even reach half a percent of the team’s total salary cap. It’s not only affordable but a steal among the league’s starting edge rushers.

C Lucas Patrick

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The Bears signed Lucas Patrick to serve as their starting center. He follows Luke Getsy from Green Bay, bringing an understanding of Chicago’s new offense. Despite his $2.6 million cap hit, Patrick is a bargain for a Bears offensive line that needs some veteran leadership and for a starting center whose job will be to bring some stability to Fields.

RB David Montgomery

AP Photo/Aaron Gash

David Montgomery is entering the final year of his rookie deal, where he’ll carry a cap hit of $3.1 million. While it’s nearly one and a half percent of the total cap, it’s a bargain for a starting running back in the NFL — especially one who’s been productive such as Montgomery. But if Chicago wants to re-sign him next offseason, it’s going to cost a little more to retain him.

TE Cole Kmet

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Cole Kmet is coming off an encouraging second season with the Bears, where he doubled his production from his rookie year. While he’s yet to have his breakout season, his cap hit is less than one percent of the team’s total salary cap and ranks 43rd among the rest of the league’s tight ends. He’s expected to be a focal point on offense this season, which makes him a bargain.

OT Larry Borom

AP Photo/Matt Durisko

  • 2022 salary cap hit. $908,270

  • Percent of cap: 0.43%

  • Position rank: 117th among OTs

Larry Borom showed his potential as a starting offensive tackle for the Bears, and he’s expected to step into a full-time starting role in 2022. Whether that’s at left tackle or right tackle remains to be seen, but he’ll play a huge role on offense for Chicago. His cap hit — which isn’t even half a percent of the entire salary cap — ranks 117th among all starting tackles in the NFL, an absolute steal for the Bears.

OT Steven Jenkins

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While there’s some uncertainty about Teven Jenkins’ role heading into the 2022 season, he figures to factor into the starting lineup this season. He could line up at right tackle or potentially right guard. Jenkins has a cap hit less than a percent of Chicago’s salary cap, which is a bargain among starting offensive tackles.

RB Khalil Herbert

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

  • 2022 salary cap hit. $857,677

  • Percent of cap: 0.41%

  • Position rank: 126th among RBs

Khalil Herbert showed flashes of his potential as a playmaker for the Bears during his rookie season. While his role was limited last season, he figures to see an expanded role this season. The Bears are expected to utilize the 1-2 punch of Montgomery and Herbert, something Getsy will likely bring with him from Green Bay. Herbert’s cap hit ranks 126th among running backs, which is a great bargain.

LB Roquan Smith

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

Roquan Smith has established himself as one of the NFL’s top linebackers, and he’s coming off another productive season with the Bears. Smith has a chance to become a superstar in Matt Eberflus’ defense. Considering Smith is due a contract extension that will see him paid among the league’s top linebackers, his $9.7 million cap hit is a bargain this season.

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