2022 Bears roster breakdown: Who's under contract and who's a free agent

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Bears guard James Daniels warms up before the November game against the Steelers. On of the top offseason priorities will be to re-sign the right guard.

    Bears guard James Daniels warms up before the November game against the Steelers. On of the top offseason priorities will be to re-sign the right guard. Associated Press

 
By Sean Hammond
shammond@shawmedia.com
Updated 1/13/2022 8:32 PM

Bears leadership is hard at work putting together a list of general manager and head coach candidates this week. The organization's five-person panel will interview candidates for the top football jobs.

Whoever they hire as GM will inherit a roster with Ryan Pace's fingerprints all over it. Only punter Pat O'Donnell, a 2014 draft pick, remains from the pre-Pace era.

 

The Bears should be in the middle of the road as far as cap space. They do have plenty of holes to fill before they have a full depth chart.

The Bears have about $166 million committed, according to OverTheCap.com. They have twice as much money poured into their defense as their offense ($108 million to $54 million). They have about $40.2 million in cap space available, assuming the cap is set at $208.2 million, which is the current expectation.

Numerous players become free agents in March. Here's a breakdown of the roster:

Under contract for 2022

Quarterbacks: Justin Fields, Nick Foles, Ryan Willis

Running backs: Tarik Cohen, Khalil Herbert, David Montgomery

Wide receivers: Isaiah Coulter, Darnell Mooney, Dazz Newsome, Nsimba Webster

Tight end: Cole Kmet

Offensive tackles: Larry Borom, Teven Jenkins, Tyrone Wheatley

Offensive guards: Dieter Eiselen, Cody Whitehair

Defensive tackles: Auzoyah Alufohai, Eddie Goldman, LaCale London, Khyiris Tonga

Defensive ends: Angelo Blackson, Mario Edwards

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Outside linebackers: Jeremiah Attaochu, Trevis Gipson, Sam Kamara, Khalil Mack, Ledarius Mack, Robert Quinn, Charles Snowden

Inside linebackers: Caleb Johnson, Roquan Smith, Danny Trevathan

Cornerbacks: Thomas Graham Jr., Jaylon Johnson, Michael Joseph, BoPete Keyes, Duke Shelley, Kindle Vildor

Safety: Eddie Jackson

Kicker: Cairo Santos

Restricted free agents:

The Bears can match other teams' offers on these players.

RB Ryan Nall, TE J.P. Holtz, OG Alex Bars, CB Xavier Crawford, CB Teez Tabor

Exclusive rights free agents:

If the Bears offer a contract at the league minimum, the player cannot negotiate with other teams.

TE Jesper Horsted, C Sam Mustipher, OT Lachavious Simmons

Unrestricted free agents:

QB Andy Dalton, RB Damien Williams, WRs Damiere Byrd, Marquise Goodwin, Jakeem Grant, Allen Robinson, TEs Jimmy Graham, Jesse James, OTs Germain Ifedi, Jason Peters, Elijah Wilkinson, OG James Daniels, DTs Akiem Hicks, Margus Hunt, DE Bilal Nichols, LBs Bruce Irvin, Cassius Marsh, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Christian Jones, Alec Ogletree, CB Artie Burns, Safeties Deon Bush, Marqui Christian, Tashaun Gipson, DeAndre Houston-Carson, P Pat O'Donnell, Long Snapper Patrick Scales.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

• • •

Observations

Darnell Mooney is the only regular contributor returning at receiver. Cole Kmet is the only tight end under contract, though the team can bring back restricted free agent Jesper Horsted.

Among the list of impending free agents, the top priorities to re-sign are likely right guard James Daniels, defensive tackle Bilal Nichols and receiver Jakeem Grant. The Bears will need another safety to start alongside Eddie Jackson.

The Bears have utilized void years in contracts in recent years in order to circumvent the salary cap. For instance, quarterback Andy Dalton signed a one-year, $10-million contract in March, but the team has split that $10 million over the 2021 and 2022 seasons by using a void year in 2022. So a portion of Dalton's salary will count toward the 2022 salary cap total, but Dalton is free to sign with a new team in March. Other players with void years in 2022 are safety Tashaun Gipson, tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Damien Williams.

The Bears are still paying former left tackle Charles Leno, who they cut last year, in 2022. The team is on the hook for $2.8 million of Leno's salary in 2022. The Washington Football Team recently extended Leno with a three-year, $37.5 million contract.

The Bears have five draft picks in 2022: Their own selections in rounds two, three, five and six, plus a fifth-rounder acquired from Houston in exchange for Anthony Miller. The top pick is 39th overall.

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