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Deal with Forte wouldn't hurt Bears' cap space

Published: Monday, May 21, 2012 8:27 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO (MCT) — Whatever business the Bears want to knock out between now and the beginning of the season will not be limited by salary-cap space.

After signing the six-man draft class, the Bears have $3.81 million in remaining cap room, according to an NFL source. That gives them more than enough room to get a multiyear contract done with Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte, who otherwise will be on a one-year deal with the franchise tag.

Forte's cap figure of $7.742 million from the franchise tag already is factored into the team's space, even though he has yet to sign the tender. A multiyear deal actually could lower his number, giving the Bears more space. Either way, the cap will not be an obstacle to what otherwise has been a complicated process.

The Bears have approached free agency under first-year general manager Phil Emery much the way they did last year under Jerry Angelo, signing veterans to small contracts. Defensive tackle John McCargo and guard Chilo Rachal signed one-year deals that come with a minimum-salary benefit, meaning they will count only $540,000 against the cap. Defensive tackle DeMario Pressley will earn only $540,000.

So there is plenty of room for the Bears to fit a big deal under the cap and make other moves. They also could make adjustments to create additional cap space if needed.

For instance, cornerback Charles Tillman has the fifth-highest cap number on the roster at $7.96 million. That number is so large because it includes a $3 million special teams incentive he will not receive. It's considered a likely-to-be-earned incentive, which counts toward the 2012 cap but would provide a cap credit for 2013. If his contract was redone, that could be removed.

No magical answers are out there for a roster that still has questions. The Buccaneers might release tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. if they can't trade him, a difficult task considering he'll be 29 this summer and has creaky knees and a $3.3 million salary for 2012. Winslow caught 75 passes last season and will land somewhere.

Rumors at the outset of free agency had the Bucs trying to trade Winslow to the Bears. The Bears instead made a bigger deal for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and drafted tight end Evan Rodriguez in the fourth round.

If the Bears choose to pursue Winslow, who might not be an ideal fit for the locker room, they'll have the capacity to do so. Keep in mind, they've professed high faith in tight end Kellen Davis, and he's represented by Drew Rosenhaus, who also has Winslow as a client.

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