With the new league year a day away and the 2012 NFL salary cap going into effect at the same time, the Detroit Lions have finally started making moves to clear some space. They were reportedly $11.55 million over the cap as of this past weekend, so it was necessary to make some adjustments to contracts in order to work to get below $120.6 million, which is the cap number for 2012.
Rather than cut players to get under, the Lions are creating space by restructuring contracts, at least for now. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Nate Burleson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh all had their deals restructured. Here's more from Dave Birkett:
Burleson deal creates about $2.2 million in cap room. Stafford creates about $7.2 million. Suh deal (dont know specfics yet) as much as $6.5— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) March 12, 2012
Suh's agent declined to share the specific details about his client's contract, but he did say that a "significant amount" is involved. The change in his contract is expected to be made today after the Lions send out paperwork for it.
The downside to restructuring deals (by converting base salaries to signing bonuses) is that the money gets spread out over the rest of the contract. While it saves money for this year, the cap hits for future seasons will go up. Hopefully by the time the Lions have to deal with that the cap number will have gone up more than it did this offseason and they will have more space to start with.