The Chicago Bears will have roughly $11 million in room to operate when the NFL finally sets the salary cap for 2013, and that's before the possible restructuring of a couple of contracts that would create more space.

A host of positions need to be filled via free agency and the draft. Defensive tackle, middle linebacker, strong-side linebacker, nickel cornerback, two guards and a backup quarterback are needed before considering potential upgrades at offensive tackle, tight end and other spots.

It’s a complicated puzzle with each player counting as a piece – large or small – of the pie. Fifteen players coming out of contract who played a significant role in 2012 counted more than $29 million against the cap during that season. There is no way all 15 players will return and some that do could come back with smaller cap figures. For instance, Brian Urlacher’s cap number in 2012 was $9,704,185 and if he returns for a 14th season his cap number likely will be significantly smaller.

The Bears are not likely to allot $3,754,805 for a backup quarterback, the amount Jason Campbell received this past season. A backup guard isn’t going to take up $4,254,650 in room like Chris Spencer did. In fact, James Brown potentially could fill that role and his 2013 cap figure is $480,000.

But Henry Melton was one of the best values in the NFL in ’12 with a cap figure of $697,613. If he comes back, it will be for much more. The franchise tag would require $8.3 million and a long-term contract easily could require more than $4 million.

Fortunately, the Bears are not pressed with cap issues like some other teams. But they’re going to need to proceed with a plan and caution as they fill out the roster in the coming months. - See more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/football/bears/chi-bears-salary-cap-20130227,0,515183.story#sthash.IMyMWdGs.dpuf