The Detroit Lions injury issues continue to impact their salary cap and for the third time this year, they’re forced to execute an in-season restructure of a player's contract. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Lions have restructured Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s contract in order to free up $2.42 million in cap space.
The Lions have had to get creative with their salary cap this season, mainly because of the number of players who have landed on injured reserve, reserve/PUP, and reserve/NFI lists. At this time, the Lions have over $35 million wrapped up in these lists (with the Vaitai adjustment removed) and have spent another $1.5 million on injury settlements.
Before this restructuring, the Lions had an estimated $2 million in available cap space per OverTheCap.com, and that amount should grow to roughly $4.4 million. But that number is not settled by any means and could change very soon.
There will likely be some adjustments coming in the near future as players are removed from the injury list—such as Jerry Jacobs and Josh Paschal, who could be activated on Saturday—but there may also be more additions to injured reserve based on their current injured players.
Like with the contract restructures of Taylor Decker and Michael Brockers, the Lions didn’t have a lot of options to make this sort of necessary move. In fact, the only other players eligible for restructuring are Jared Goff, Romeo Okwara, and Frank Ragnow—though a Ragnow would only clear a maximum of $1.4 million.
Because we don’t know the specifics of the restructuring, we don’t know exactly how the money will be spread over future years. However, we do know that a portion of Vaitai’s base salary (in the neighborhood of $3.63 million) has been converted into a signing bonus feeding up $2.42 million in 2022, and that money will be added to Vaitai’s remaining contract years in the form of a signing bonus, which is guaranteed.
The Lions need to get healthy quick, for a multitude of reasons.