As teams around the NFL attempt to navigate the salary cap while putting together the rosters with which they will open the season, a couple of players have agreed to rework their current contracts in order to give their teams a bit more breathing room. Here are a few notable examples:
Ronnie Stanley, LT (Ravens): Baltimore addressed a major stressor today by converting $8.47MM of star left tackle Stanley’s salary this year into a signing bonus, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. The move resulted in the creation of $6.35MM of cap space for the 2022 season. This is a win-win for both sides. The Ravens gave Stanley a five-year, $112.8MM contract extension mid-season in 2020 that made him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL at the time. Since signing the contract, Stanley has played in two total games. With this compromise, Stanley still gets money from the contract while giving the Ravens a bit of relief on what stood to be the 20th largest cap hit in the NFL this season. After initially holding a cap hit of $18.55MM, Stanley will now represent a much easier to swallow $12.2MM of the Ravens’ cap space this year.
Troy Hill, CB (Rams): Los Angeles will make its cap struggles a bit easier by exercising a pre-existing option in Hill’s contract that will lower his 2022 cap hit by about $2MM, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. Hill returned to his long-time home in Los Angeles sporting a one-year-old contract from the Browns. The Rams decided to trade for their former cornerback a year after losing out on him to a two-year, $9MM deal from Cleveland. The option will lower Hill’s 2022 cap hit from $4.5MM to only $2.5MM.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (Chiefs): Smith-Schuster decided in his second stint with free agency to join a new franchise, signing with the Chiefs on a one-year, $3.76MM contract. The deal was already extremely incentive-laden, but Kansas City decided to give the former-Steelers’ receiver an opportunity at a bit higher of a bonus total in a cost-efficient, cap-savvy move. According to Yates, the Chiefs agreed to an amended contract that will increase Smith-Schuster’s per-game active roster bonus from $30K to $60K. This will increase his potential season total in such bonuses from $510K to $1.02MM. What’s interesting is that, of the additional $510K, only $150K will be attributed to this year’s salary cap. Since Smith-Schuster only appeared in five games last season, only five games-worth of the additional $30K per game will count against the 2022 salary cap. The remaining $360K will be applied to the 2023 salary cap.
Nick Vannett, TE (Saints): New Orleans brought in a solid run-blocking tight end in Vannett last offseason on a three-year, $8MM deal. Unfortunately, the Saints were only able to get seven games of action out of Vannett last year in a season that saw him miss the first 10 weeks of the season. Perhaps a reaction to the absences last year, the Saints were able to convince Vannett to sign a reworked deal that would lower his 2022 base salary from $2.6MM to $1.04MM, according to a tweet from Yates. The lowered payout will result in about $1.55MM of cap space for New Orleans.
It didn’t take long for Nick Vannett to find a new home. The free agent tight end is signing with the Saints, reports NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo (via Twitter). Vannett got a three-year deal from New Orleans.
The 28-year-old tight end spent the first three-plus seasons of his career with the Seahawks, including a 2018 campaign where he put up some of the best offensive numbers of his career. That season, Vannett finished with 29 receptions for 269 yards and three touchdowns.
He was traded to the Steelers during the 2019 season, and he signed a two-year deal with the Broncos last offseason. Over the past two years, Vannett has mostly served as a blocking tight end, and he finished this past year with 95 yards from scrimmage and one score. Denver moved on from the veteran yesterday, saving the team $2.68MM against the salary cap with $875K left in dead money.
The Saints tight ends room will look different in 2021. The team released Jared Cook earlier this month, and they saw Josh Hill join his former positions coach (and current Lions head coach), Dan Campbell. 2020 third-rounder Adam Trautman is currently atop the team’s depth chart.