The Detroit Lions have had a busy Wednesday, and it might just be getting started. They have already agreed to deals with cornerback Chris Houston and defensive end Jason Jones, and deals with running back Reggie Bush and safety Glover Quin could be on the way as well. I'm sure you're wondering how the Lions can afford to add all of these players given that they came into Wednesday with nearly no cap space. The answer? Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has once again restructured his contract, according to Mike O'Hara.
Unlike the restructures Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson and center Dominic Raiola did, Suh is not taking a pay cut. Instead, the Lions are simply converting his base salary into a signing bonus, allowing them to spread the money over the remainder of his contract. In turn, this lowers his cap hit for this year.
Suh was originally set to have a cap hit of $18.17 million in 2013. His base salary was $12.15 million, but that has almost certainly been dropped to the minimum. What will this save the Lions for 2013? MLive's Justin Rogers projects that the Lions are looking at an extra $7.6 million in cap space. That's not enough to fit in Houston, Jones, Bush and Quin, but it's a start.
The downside of restructuring contracts like this is that future cap hits are increased. This is why quarterback Matthew Stafford has such a large cap hit right now, and it's why the Lions want to get him a new deal. They will be in the same situation with Suh next year, as Rogers projects that Suh's cap hit for 2014 will be $21.38 million (up from $17.57 million). The good news is that Suh is open to the idea of an extension.
Agent Rosey Barnes on Suh extending contract with Lions: "He's open to it. He wants to be there when they win the Super Bowl."— Mike O'Hara (@MikeOHaraNFL) March 13, 2013
Given his monster cap hit next year, the Lions won't be able to franchise Suh if he becomes a free agent after the 2014 season. (He's technically under contract through 2015, but he will almost certainly void the final year to hit free agency.) Extending him will be the main focus of next year's offseason, assuming that Stafford has already received a new deal. The Lions will have to get Suh a new deal to create cap space, and they will also want to make sure they don't lose him on the open market in 2015.