Offseason Blueprint: Bears

General manager Phil Emery expects the Chicago Bears to be competitive in free agency, so they’ve definitely got to get the cap situation in order so they can sign players. But that shouldn’t be too difficult because Chicago can free up space by converting a portion of Jay Cutler's $22.4 million base salary for next season into a signing bonus that can be prorated, and the club could also pick up space by cutting defensive end Julius Peppers with the post-June 1 designation.

Colleague Louis Riddick is absolutely correct in listing Cutler's potential ascension from a playoff level to a championship level quarterback as one of the top priorities. Based on the deal Cutler signed, he's got three years to do just that, and head coach Marc Trestman should be able to get him there, provided the quarterback continues to listen and soak up the coaching.

Revamping the defense is the most important priority though, as 2014 absolutely has to be a redemption year for defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. Emery and the personnel staff have to obtain the players to help Tucker do his job, which is likely what we'll see in free agency and in May’s NFL draft.