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Chalk Talk: Why so many 1-year contracts?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on

Why are most free agents signing contracts with the Bears and other NFL teams for just one year this offseason? Can you please clarify?
Jim B.

Every individual's situation is different, but many players are choosing to sign one-year contracts because the salary cap is expected to increase by a considerable margin next year after being reduced this year due to the NFL losing an estimated $3 billion due to COVID-19. So players are, in effect, betting on themselves to have a good 2021 season and reap the benefits in 2022 and beyond. The salary cap typically rises about $10 million per year. It was $155.27 million in 2016, $167.00 million in 2017, $177.2 million in 2018, $188.2 million in 2019 and $198.2 million in 2020. Given that trend, the cap was expected to be about $210 million in 2021 under normal circumstances, but because of the losses caused by the coronavirus, it was set at $182.5 million. Twelve of the 15 players the Bears have either re-signed or signed from other teams this month have inked one-year contracts. The exceptions are kicker Cairo Santos and defensive end Mario Edwards Jr., who inked 3-year deals; and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, who signed for two years.

If my memory is correct, Christian Jones has already worn two different jersey numbers with the Bears, Nos. 52 and 59. Given those are worn by Khalil Mack and Danny Trevathan, will Jones become the first Bears player to wear a third different jersey number with the team?
Kevin T.
Dyer, Indiana

Linebacker Christian Jones would become the 10th player in Bears history to wear at least three different numbers with the team. Eight players have worn three, but Hall of Fame tackle Roy "Link" Lyman stands heads and shoulders above all of them, having donned five different numbers (2, 11, 12, 14 and 77) while playing for the Bears in 1926-28, 1930-31 and 1933-34. Lyman retired following the 1928 and 1931 seasons but returned to the Bears each time after a one-year hiatus. The only two Bears players to wear three numbers during the Super Bowl era are quarterback Virgil Carter (9, 11 and 15 in 1968-69, 1976-77) and safety Cameron Worrell (24, 44 and 45 in 2003-06, 2008).

Who was the last remaining member of the 1985 Bears still on the roster after Super Bowl XX? (Yes, another question about the '85 team.)
Steve S.
Peoria, Arizona

Of all the players from the 1985 Super Bowl XX championship team, kicker Kevin Butler remained with the Bears the longest, exiting after the 1995 season as the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 1,116 points. (Robbie Gould has since broken that record.) Butler was selected by the Bears in the fourth round of the 1985 NFL Draft out of Georgia and set an NFL rookie scoring record with 144 points for the Super Bowl champions.

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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