1:25pm: According to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links), the restructure of Ellerbe’s contract actually came before the deal with the Saints was finalized, meaning Miami will carry $7.8MM in dead money for the linebacker on, rather than just $4.2MM.
8:21am: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Ellerbe’s new deal includes a $1.5MM signing bonus and a $2.1MM roster bonus for 2015. That roster bonus will be paid out in April, and his $1.1MM base salary is fully guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Ellerbe will also have annual $100K workout bonuses and $1MM in annual roster bonuses for 2016 and 2017, tweets Wilson.
8:09am: When the Saints and Dolphins agreed to a swap last week that sent wide receiver Kenny Stills to Miami in exchange for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick, reports indicated that Ellerbe had agreed to rework his contract as part of the deal. NFLPA records suggest that change to the linebacker’s contract has now taken place, according to Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Per Woodbery, Ellerbe’s base salary for 2015 has been sliced from $8.5MM to a mere $1.1MM. The salaries for the final two years of his deal have also been reduced — 2016’s figure has gone from $6.45MM to $4.1MM, while 2017’s salary is also now $4.1MM (from $6MM).
Typically, as part of this sort of agreement, a player will receive something in return for agreeing to reduce his salary. That could mean getting an up-front signing bonus, having a portion of his salary guaranteed, or being able to earn back some or all of his lost salary in incentives. In Ellerbe’s case, those details haven’t been reported yet, but I expect they’ll surface eventually — it wouldn’t make sense if he simply agreed to take such a significant pay cut without being compensated in any way for it.
In New Orleans, Ellerbe appears poised to assume the inside linebacker spot vacated by Curtis Lofton, who was cut by the Saints and has since landed with the Raiders.