MONDAY, 8:22am: According to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (all Twitter links), Lewis agreed to reduce his salary for 2015 from $6.8MM to $2.65MM, which consists of a $2MM base salary ($500K guaranteed), a $250K signing bonus, and $400K in per-game roster bonuses.
Lewis can earn a maximum of $3MM of that lost salary back through not-likely-to-be-earned playing time incentives, and his cap number is now $3.85MM, creating $4.4MM in extra room for the Jags.
SATURDAY, 12:55pm: After the Jaguars spent big money to secure Julius Thomas, there was speculation that tight end Marcedes Lewis could be let go. It appears the veteran is staying put, as Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.com reports that the two sides have restructured the final year of Lewis’ contract. The 30-year-old is finishing up a five-year, $35MM contract signed in 2011.
Lewis’ cap hit for this upcoming season was at $8.2MM, and the team would have been left with $1.4MM in dead money if they chose to cut him prior to June 1st. O’Halloran suggests that the restructuring could make Lewis a more attractive trade asset, but his source indicated that the tight end would remain in Jacksonville through the 2015 season.
Lewis has struggled greatly since receiving that big contract in 2011. He rated as the 10th best tight end in the NFL in 2011, and fifth in 2012, before falling off a cliff and coming in at 30th and 48th the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Much of that fall in rankings is due to the decline in his ability as a run blocker, where he was among the best in the league for his career before grading out negatively in 2013 and 2014.
Of course, the reason he got that contract in the first place wasn’t for his excellent blocking skills. In 2010, in addition to being one of the best blocking tight ends in the league he caught double digit touchdowns to establish himself as a force at the position. He caught 10 touchdowns over the next four seasons combined. He will now be joined with incoming talent Thomas, in hopes together they can provide Blake Bortles huge weapons in the middle of the field.