Needing cap space, Bears cut CB Prince Amukamara, WR Taylor Gabriel
The Bears moved Friday to create more salary cap space, and in doing so added more items to their free-agent shopping list.
The Bears moved Friday to create more salary-cap space and in doing so added more items to their free-agent shopping list.
The team will save $13.5 million in cap space after cutting two veterans: cornerback Prince Amukamara and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel.
They now must find a starting cornerback to take the place of the physical Amukamara, who started 42 games over the last three seasons. They’ll scour the free-agent market to find someone to compete with their unproven in-house options. Kevin Toliver, who started one game in each of his two seasons, got more playing time after Amukamara hurt his hamstring on Thanksgiving. The Bears outbid about a third of the league to sign Tre Roberson, a former CFL cornerback, last month.
The team will look for a speedy receiver to take the place of Gabriel, who caught 67 passes for 688 yards in 2018 but had two concussions last year. In Week 3 against the Redskins, he became the first Bears player since 1965 to catch three touchdown passes in one quarter. Later in that game, he suffered his first head injury of the season.
The Bears needed to create cap room before the start of free agency March 18. Before the moves, they had about $13.4 million in space after deducting the salaries of their 51 most expensive contracts, according to Spotrac.com. The league average was $43.5 million.
Amukamara was scheduled to make $9 million in base salary in 2020. Instead, he’ll cost the Bears $1 million in dead money. Cutting Gabriel creates $4.5 million in cap space but costs the Bears $2 million in dead money.
Releasing Amukamara and Gabriel now gives them head starts on finding new homes before free agency begins.
The moves weren’t particularly surprising. Amukamara knew it was a possibility as far back as training camp. In August, he said he was “very, very conscious” of his contract status at the end of the year and the fact the Bears could cut him with little penalty.
“Guys have to get paid,” he said then. “[Safety] Eddie [Jackson] is one. I’m sure [running back] Tarik [Cohen]. They can do whatever with [quarterback] Mitch [Trubisky]. I know they’re going to have decisions they’re going to need to make. So just knowing that this is the last year of my guarantees and next year they don’t owe me nothing . . . I can’t go into a season worrying about that.”