The Detroit Lions managed to get under the NFL salary cap without cutting or trading anybody because they restructured the contracts of quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch.
As first reported by Dave Birkett, the contracts were restructured on Aug. 4 and included a change in each player's base salary for 2011. Stafford's base salary went from $9 million to $525,000, which is the minimum for two-year players. The minimum for players that have been in the league much longer is $810,000, and that is what Vanden Bosch's salary is now. Before the change his base salary for 2011 was $4.5 million.
How exactly does restructuring contracts create cap space? The Lions lowered the base salaries for Stafford and Vanden Bosch and increased their signing bonuses.
Both players made up the difference in signing bonuses, meaning the salary-cap impact can be spread over the remainder of their contracts. Stafford's bonus was $8.475 million; Vanden Bosch's was $3.69 million.
In all the Lions generated around $8.5 million in cap room by restructuring these deals. That allowed Detroit to get under the cap and sign a few free agents.