Around the League

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Jay Cutler, Brian Urlacher are next Chicago Bears deals

"Around the League" is taking a look at each team's salary-cap situation heading into training camp. We continue our trek through the NFC with the Chicago Bears.

Adjusted Cap Number: $131.812 million.

Cap Room Remaining: $4.772 million (this figure is after the Matt Forte deal).

Best Bargain: After spending his rookie season injured and moving from defensive end to three technique defensive tackle, Henry Melton is coming off his best season as a pro, playing in nearly 60 percent of the Bears' defensive snaps and totaling 24 tackles and seven sacks, which ranked second on the team. The 2009 fourth-round draft pick is due the NFL minimum -- $615,000 -- after falling 1.5 sacks short last season of escalating his 2012 base salary to $1.26 million.

Potential Camp Casualty: Two players who are making $1.26 million in non-guaranteed salary and are squarely on the roster bubble are running back Kahlil Bell and wide receiver Johnny Knox. Bell took over the starting job when Forte went down with a knee injury and will compete with Armando Allen for the No. 3 running back role behind Michael Bush. Knox is coming off a horrific back injury while attempting to recover a fumble in a December loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Knox, who could open on the season on the PUP list, likely will have his contract reworked to pay him at a lower rate. Veteran defensive end Chauncey Davis is due $825,000 in base salary, which will be guaranteed if he's on the roster in Week 1. Buried behind Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije and 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin, Davis might struggle to stick.

Contract Issue Looming In 2013: The Bears face two big issues in 2013. Since the NFL is a quarterback-driven league, we'll go with Jay Cutler first. Cutler is signed through next offseason, but the Bears could look to be proactive and lock him up long-term. Cutler isn't the most cuddly of players, and he's unlikely to sing a duet with Jeff Tweedy on the next Wilco record, but he's the best quarterback the Bears have had in a long time and is just entering the prime of his career. With the re-signing of Forte, coupled with the arrival of Brandon Marshall and position coach Jeremy Bates and the departure of Mike Martz, Cutler is poised for a big season that should place him behind only Sid Luckman on the Bears' all-time passing yards and touchdowns list.

The second contract issue the Bears will need to address is that of middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2013. The heart and soul of the Bears' defense for the last dozen seasons, Urlacher posted 100-plus tackles for the eighth time in his NFL career and picked off three passes before suffering a knee injury in the regular-season finale that kept him off the field during the offseason. Though Urlacher turns 35 next offseason, the Bears will (and should, as long he's healthy) push hard to bring him back.

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