Not all contract restructuring are about forcing players to take pay cuts. Sometimes it’s about giving someone an extension and creating some cap space, like the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots just did with Jimmy Smith and Tom Brady.
Brady signed a two year extension worth $41 million, including a $28 million signing bonus, which keeps him until 2019 with the Patriots. It takes the cap hit for 2016 and 2017 from $15 million down to $14 million while rising to $22 million in 2018 and 2019. This gives the Patriots, previously with $11.2 million in cap space, a little bit more wiggle room as Chandler Jones,Dont’a Hightower, and Jamie Collins are up for extensions, not to mention the free agents they need to decide on re-signing.
The Ravens, who had just $4.2 million in cap space going into free agency, restructured his deal, like Baltimore are doing with a number of players. He signed a $41 million, four-year contract extension just less than a year ago. He converted $6 million of his salary into a signing bonus, which reduces what would have been a $9.6 million cap hit into $5.1 million, freeing up $4.5 million in cap space for Baltimore. The Ravens reworked the contracts of Marshal Yanda, Joe Flacco and Kyle Arrington in order to generate more than $15 million in cap relief. This does increase his future cap hits: $12.6 million in 2017, $13.1 million in 2018 and $13.6 million in 2019.
Smith, who has been playing for the Ravens since 2011, is signed through the 2019 season, when he’ll be 31 once it’s over. Tom Brady, now the oldest active quarterback in the NFL, will be 42 by the end of the 2019 season, if he lasts that long. Smith played in all 16 games last season for the Ravens, finishing with 3 interceptions, a career high. Brady, playing in his 16th NFL season, led the NFL in touchdown passes with 36 while throwing for over 4000 yards for the 8th time in his career.