Flush with salary cap room after the lockout, the Chicago Bears biggest free agent acquisition in 2011 was punter Adam Podlesh as they worked towards a long-term contract with running back Matt Forte. No deal between Forte and Bears materialized, and in late October, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported that they Bears had over $18 million in salary cap space remaining that was likely to be used on contract extensions players other than Forte.
About half ($9.1 million) of that $18 million-plus in cap space went towards extensions for wide receiver Earl Bennett and offensive linemen Roberto Garza and Edwin Williams.
Less than a week after Biggs’ report, the Bears signed center Roberto Garza to a two-year, $6.25 million extension. That extension increased Garza’s 2011 base salary from a rate of $2.175 million to $7.086 million for the final nine weeks of the season, a net increase of $2.6 million in both base salary and cap dollars. That still left the Bears with over $15 million of cap space for 2011, as ProFootballTalk.com reported in the middle of November.
The following month, the Bears extended the contracts of Bennett and Williams.
However, according to a league source, the Bears included language that gives Bennett and Williams the right to terminate their contracts in any year