The Lions entered the training camp with a fair amount of cap space, but due to a handful of injuries, they are suddenly up against the salary cap limit. While only the top-51 contracts on the Lions’ 53-man roster count against the salary cap, there are other factors that are also brought into the equation, such as players on injured reserve, reserve/PUP, reserve/NFI, and the practice squad.
Here’s a quick overview of the added salary cap costs, beyond the top-51:
- Five players on injured reserve: just over $4 million in cap space
- Jameson Williams on the reserve/NFI: just over $3.1 million
- Four players on the reserve/PUP list: around $18 million
- Practice squad: $3.4 million
While the Lions will be able to shift the reserve/NFI and PUP money around as players are removed from those lists—and thus reducing the cap as other players are removed from the active roster—the Lions remain in a bind for the time being and needed to create a little bit of cap space to help them get through the first half of the season.
Restructuring Decker is a logical solution. Decker is a foundational piece of the organization and has a contract that is flexible enough that the Lions can gain the space needed.
So here’s how the restructure works. The Lions took $6 million of Decker's 2022 base salary and converted this into a signing bonus. As all signing bonuses do, the $6 million is divided evenly across the remaining years of the contract. So, with four years remaining, each year (including the voided year in 2025) gets $1.5 million added via the signing bonus component.
So, for the 2022 season, the Lions remove $6 million from Decker’s base salary, add $1.5 million in a signing bonus, and in turn, free up $4.5 million in new cap space.
Here’s a look at how Decker’s new contract breaks down:
2022: $8.75M base salary + $5.4M prorated signing bonus + $250k workout bonus = $14.4M cap hit
2023: $13.7M base salary + $5.4M prorated signing bonus +$250k workout bonus = $19.35M cap hit
2024: $12.95M base salary + $5.4M prorated signing bonus + $500k roster bonus + $250k workout bonus = $19.1M cap hit
2025: VOIDED YEAR — $3.9M cap hit (prorated bonus)
The upside for the Lions is the salary cap space gained and they now have roughly $3 million in cap space to start the season, knowing more will likely be available as players are removed from the injured lists.
Meanwhile, Decker gets a check for $6 million, no change to his overall dollar amount on his contract, and a little more roster security—as it now costs a bit more in penalties if the Lions decide to move on from Decker in the next three seasons.