Predicting the fate of the Bears’ roster cut candidates

The Chicago Bears are in the midst of what could be a franchise-changing offseason, where general manager Ryan Poles will look to overhaul the league’s worst roster in 2022.

Looking at the Bears roster, there aren’t many expensive contracts on the books. Safety Eddie Jackson has the highest cap hit at $17.09 million, but he doesn’t feel like someone who could be on the receiving end.

Not to mention, Chicago is in a great spot in terms of cap space, where it’s expected to have roughly $100 million, according to An observer. That’s the most in the NFL (by a wide margin).

But there are some veterans who could be major losers before the season starts, especially if the Poles can find improvements at their positions and save some money along the way.

Here’s a look at some players who are considered cut candidates and what we believe will happen to them:

Already cut: DE Al-Quadin Muhammad

AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski

Chicago brought in Muhammad to help with the pass rush that replaced Khalil Mack and eventually Robert Quinn. Muhammad was one of Matt Eberflus’ guys on the Colts, but he struggled immensely and contributed to arguably the worst defensive line in the league. Muhammad had just one sack in 16 games. Muhammad was the team’s first casualty this offseason, where his release freed up roughly $4 million in salary cap space. Now, Travis Gipson and Dominique Robinson lead the defensive end group, where it’s clear there’s a lot of work to be done.

OL Cody White

Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Remaining years until the contract: 2

2023 cap hit if kept: $14.1 million

2023 dead money if cut: $8.3 million (before June 1); $4.2 million (after June 1)

In 2023, the savings cap is reduced: $5.8 million (before June 1); $9.9 million (after June 1)

Whitehair has the team’s second-highest earnings at $14.1 million. And with Whitehair coming off another poor season, you have to wonder if the Poles will decide to move on and bring in an upgrade at left-back. No one is guaranteed a starting job along the offensive line at this point, and Poles is expected to look for upgrades in free agency and the NFL Draft at both the offensive line and interior positions. At this point, Teven Jenkins and Braxton Jones feel like the only safe bets to start. If the Bears select Whitehair as a cut after June 1, it would free up $9.9 million that could be allocated to other positions along the line, including a replacement at left guard.

Prediction: Blonde gets a haircut

OL Lucas Patrick

Photo by AP/Jeffrey Phelps

Remaining years until the contract: 1

2023 cap hit if kept: 5.4 million dollars

2023 dead money if cut: 1.5 million dollars

In 2023, the savings cap is reduced: 3.9 million dollars

Patrick was one of the biggest jerks in the first class of Polish free agents. He was brought in to strengthen the center position (and knock Sam Mustipher out of the lineup). But injuries derailed his season in which he played just seven games. Patrick suffered a broken thumb in the first week of training camp, forcing him to move to right guard to start the regular season (and Mustipher again at center). Then, when Patrick finally made his debut at center in Week 7, he suffered a season-ending toe injury that sidelined him through the 2022 season. The Bears could save $3.9 million to deploy to other spots of need. But it also wouldn’t be a surprise if Patrick gets a chance to compete for the starting center spot through 2023. And if he doesn’t win, Patrick would be a solid backup.

Prediction: Patrick stays

DT Justin Jones

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Remaining years until the contract: 1

2023 cap hit if kept: 7.4 million dollars

2023 dead money if cut: 2.5 million dollars

In 2023, the savings cap is reduced: 4.9 million dollars

Jones is the only player worth keeping on arguably the league’s worst defensive line. While brought in as a backup when the Larry Ogunjobi signing fell through, Jones has brought consistency as a 3-technique. Jones led the Bears in tackles for loss and was second in QB hits. Nevertheless, Chicago will try to improve the most important position in the defense of Eberflus. There are options in both free agency and the NFL draft, which could force Jones to give up a starting role. The Bears could save $4.9 million on the drip if they cut Jones. But he is one of the better free agents to earn another year. While they will be looking for a star at the 3-tech this offseason, you have to understand that Jones will still play a key role on the defensive line next year.

Prediction: Jones stays

The story originally appeared on Bears Wire

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