The NFL has an offseason rule called the Top 51 rule. The Top 51 rule dictates that, from the start of the new NFL league year until the beginning of the regular season, only the top 51 contracts (in terms of salary cap hit) count against a team’s salary cap. With the 2023 regular season starting tomorrow, the Top 51 rule expired at 4pm today.
This means that each team in the NFL was forced to add two more contracts to their salary cap totals. If a team was flirting with the ceiling of the salary cap, the addition of two more contracts may push them above the limit. While that may not have been the case for all of the following teams, these front offices decided to take advantage of the timing to clear up some cap space, according to ESPN’s Field Yates:
- The 49ers did double-duty, restructuring the contracts of tight end George Kittle and offensive tackle Trent Williams. For Kittle, the team converted $10.57MM of his 2023 base salary into a signing bonus while adding an additional void year to the end of the deal, clearing up $8.46MM of cap space. For Williams, San Francisco converted $18.24MM of the left tackle’s 2023 base salary into a signing bonus, also adding a single void year to the end of the deal. Williams’ adjustment cleared $14.59MM of cap space. The $23.04MM of cap space cleared in the restructures likely had less to do with the Top 51 rule and much more to do with star pass rusher Nick Bosa‘s record-setting extension.
- The Ravens used the opportunity to adjust star cornerback Marlon Humphrey‘s contract. Baltimore converted $9.42MM of Humphrey’s 2023 base salary into a signing bonus and added a single void year to the end of the deal. The adjustment created $7.54MM of cap space for the Ravens.
- The Seahawks decided to create space by restructuring safety Jamal Adams‘ contract. Seattle converted $9.92MM of Adams’ 2023 base salary into a signing bonus, creating $6.61MM of cap space for the team.
- The Buccaneers also targeted the contract of a defensive veteran, adjusting the numbers of pass rusher Shaquil Barrett. For Barrett, Tampa Bay converted $13.09MM of his 2023 base salary into a signing bonus while adding an additional void year to the end of the contract. The restructure clears up $10.47MM of cap space for the Buccaneers.
- The Titans also addressed the contract of a pass rusher, restructuring Harold Landry‘s current deal. Tennessee converted $11MM of Landry’s 2023 base salary into a signing bonus, clearing up $8.25MM of cap space for the team.
- The Broncos continue to miss the contributions of wide receiver Tim Patrick, who will once again miss the entire season, but Denver still found some value for him in a contract restructure. The team converted $6MM of Patrick’s 2023 base salary into a signing bonus to clear up $3MM of cap space.
- The Browns created some cap space by restructuring the deal of veteran offensive guard Wyatt Teller. Cleveland converted $11.42MM of Teller’s 2023 base salary into a signing bonus while adding an additional void year to the end his deal in order to create $9.14MM of cap space for the team.