The new deal still rewards Peppers for the instant impact he made on the defense, but lowers his salary cap hit, sources told the web site. Grizzly Detail has not confirmed the news, and Bears PR officials said they have no knowledge of the deal.
With Peppers due a $10.5 million roster bonus for 2011, the Bears restructured the defensive end's contract on Feb. 23 to reduce his salary cap number from $12 million to $4.3 million in anticipation of the cap returning once a new collective bargaining is reached between the NFL and the players union.
The Bears did it by changing Peppers' $10.5 million roster bonus into a signing bonus so they could prorate that $10.5 million over the life of the contract, which runs through 2015. The restructuring should give the team options once free agency finally begins, while allowing the team to re-sign some of its own free agents.
Though there was no salary cap in 2010, the Bears are anticipating that it will return under a collective bargaining agreement that is yet to be signed.
Bears fans can take away two nuggets from this:
First, the Bears expect to be active in free agency and want to make sure that their money isn't tied up, even in a player as valuable as Peppers.
This isn't their only cost-cutting move of the week, as veterans Tommie Harris, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Kevin Shaffer were also released.
The other thing this tell us is that Peppers is committed to both the Bears and to winning a Super Bowl, and would even restructure his deal to make it happen.