The beauty of Jay Cutler’s new contract is that it reportedly allowed the Bears to make adjustments for cap space at any time, and they did so recently.
NFLPA records confirm that Cutler’s base salary for 2014 is now $17.5 million, a $5 million reduction from the $22.5 million.
As first reported by Brian McIntyre, the $5 million was converted into a signing bonus, and that lowers Cutler's 2014 cap number to $18.5 million, which creates $4 million in cap space for this year. The restructuring does increase Cutler’s cap charge $1 million in each of the next four years (the bonus is prorated for cap purposes).
Even at $17.5 million, Cutler still has the highest base salary in the NFL for 2014, $2.35 million more than Eli Manning (per Spotrac). The new cap hit is now the fifth-highest cap number in the league; it was originally first.
The Bears will need approximately $5 million to sign their rookie class and they likely are not done adding veterans to the team. There is a hole at backup running back and depth is still needed on defense. Phil Emery said he expected another quarterback to sign and the Bears could still choose to bring back Zack Bowman and/or Eben Britton.