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Jamie Collins contract restructure details: Lions save $4 million in 2021 cap

Collins restructure is the blueprint for how contracts will be made in 2021

Washington Football Team v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Last week it was reported that the Detroit Lions and linebacker Jamie Collins agreed to restructure his contract and now the details on this deal have become public.

Collins’ original base salary for 2021 was $8.8 million, but it was reduced to $3.8 million by converting $5 million into a prorated bonus. The Lions then added three automatically self-voiding years after the two remaining actual years on his contract, which allows them to equally spread the $5 million over five years—adding $1 million dollars to each year.

So, while the Lions save $5 million in base salary, they also take on $1 million as part of the new prorated bonus, giving them a total saving of $4 million in 2021.

Here is how the new contract is structured.

2021

Base salary: $3.8 million (down from $8.8M)
Prorated bonus: $3.3 million ($1M was added)
Workout bonus: $200,000

Cap hit: $7.3 million (down from $11.3M)

2022

Base salary: $9.8 million
Prorated bonus: $3.3 million ($1M was added)
Workout bonus: $200,000

Cap hit: $13.3 million (up $1M)

2023 (Voided year)

Prorated bonus: $1 million

Cap hit: $3 million

2024 and 2025 (Voided years)

Prorated bonus: $1 million (each year)

Cap hit: $0 (each year)

The voided years get a little tricky, but here’s a quick explanation.

The three voided years each has a $1 million prorated bonus attached to them, but the cap hit is not spread out over these three years unless Collins is still on the roster. Because he is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, like all prorated bonuses, the remaining bonus money accelerates to count against the cap in the year the player leaves the team—thus the $3 million cap hit in 2023.

If the Lions were to give Collins a contract extension that kept him on the roster beyond 2022, the prorated bonuses from this restructuring would continue to count against any years he remained on the team. If any of the restructuring money for voiding years remains when he eventually leaves, it accelerates into the first season he is no longer on the team. For example, if he was given a one-year contract extension and instead left the team after the end of the 2023 season, $1 million of the prorated restructuring bonus would continue to count against the 2023 cap and the remaining $2 million would come due in 2024.

Potential Dead Cap

Another impact of a contract restructure is the potential dead cap created if the Lions opt to move on from a player.

With regards to 2021, Collins’ dead cap number is larger than what he is currently owed this season, meaning it would cost more to cut him than to keep him on the roster. So, he’s going to be a Lion this season.

In 2022, if the Lions elect to move on from Collins, he would have a dead cap hit of $6.3 million—$2.3 million that was part of his original contract, plus $4 million remaining from his restructure. This may slightly increase the odds he remains in Detroit in 2022 but it doesn't guarantee it.

Why this makes sense for the Lions

This makes sense for the Lions because they get $4 million in immediate cap relief and can push that money into the future, $1 million in 2022 and $3 million in 2023. With the cap expected to begin rising again in the future, this is an easy way for them to mitigate the $15.7 million drop in this year's salary cap.

Why this makes sense for Collins

This makes sense for Collins (assuming there is no unusual language in the contract) because he should get the new $5 million bonus paid out to him immediately—as this restructure treats the prorated bonus like a signing bonus.

This (fairly) new trend should continue

The Lions are no stranger to adding the voided years onto contracts. Previously, the Lions have added voided years onto Matthew Stafford, Romeo Okwara, Jesse James, and Justin Coleman’s contracts as a way of freeing up cap space. Adding voided years is likely to become even more in vogue this offseason with the salary cap suffering a big drop. We have already seen some contract extensions—like Lavonte David in Tampa Bay—add in voided years. Expect a lot of larger free agent contracts to contain this language.

The Lions also may not be done with player restructures. In addition to Collins, players like Jared Goff, Trey Flowers, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai have contracts that could easily be restructured to gain salary cap space in 2021. If any of these happen, expect voided years to also be added in.