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The New England Patriots gained $2,805,000 in cap space by restructuring Devin McCourty’s deal

Miguel Benzan
Miguel Benzan on Twitter
5 years ago at 10:54 am ET
Posted Under: Individual Salary Cap

On September 11th noticed that the Patriots gained $2,300,235 in cap space according to the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report since the 10th of September. So I tweeted out 2 possible reasons

a.) NFLPA finally decreased Tom Brady’s and Rob Ninkovich’s salaries after their suspensions. Before his suspension Tom Brady’s salary was $1 million. It is now $764,706, a decrease of $235,294.
b.) Kline waiver

Updated on September 14 – Added two more possible reasons for the large amount of cap space.

Learned from a source that Brady’s salary was indeed lowered but that the NFLPA is still counting Kline’s 2 million cap number on the Patriots salary cap. Learned from a tweet from The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin that “Source: #Patriots restructured Devin McCourty’s deal on Fri. Converted $3.74m of base salary into signing bonus. Created $2.8m of cap space”

Before this restructure McCourty’s 2016 cap number was $7,942,765 which consisted of
* his fully guaranteed salary of $4,500,000
* $3,000,000 proration of his 2015 $15 million signing bonus
* $437,500 (14 games of his 46-man active roster bonus)
* $5,265 offseason workout bonus

Devin McCourty’s current 2016 cap number is $5,137,765

* his guaranteed salary of $760,000
* $3,000,000 proration of his 2015 signing bonus proration
* $935,000 proration of his 2016 $3,740,000 signing bonus
* $437,500 (14 games of his 46-man active roster bonus)
* $5,265 offseason workout bonus

Devin McCourty’s future cap numbers were:
2017 – $10M
2018 – $11M
2019 – $12.5M

His future cap numbers are now:
2017 – $10,935,000
2018 – $11,935,000
2019 – $13,435,000

Summary – the Patriots gained $2,805,000 in 2016 cap space in exchange for increasing each of McCourty’s future cap numbers by $935,000.

Tom Forde on Twitter asked “did McCourty ask for this to happen or was it the pats request do you think ?”. I think the latter. I know that most players’ contracts contain a clause that allows the team to convert salary into signing bonus at any time. So the Patriots could have done this restructure without even asking Devin. No player is going to going to turn down receiving more money upfront while also receiving more protection from being released in the future.

It has been so long that the Patriots converted salary into signing bonus that I did not even consider it as an option for the increased cap space.

Why would the Patriots convert salary into signing bonus when they already had so much space?

In no particular order.

1.) They expect players with NLTBE (Not Likely to Be Earned) Incentives to reach them and they want to have cushion for them. Examples, Edelman has $500,000 in receptions incentives. Marcus Cannon has $300,000 in playing-time incentives.
2.) They hope to reach extensions with players that will end up increasing their 2016 cap numbers. We learned today that Rob Ninkovich was extended for the 2017 season. Other players whose extensions that would increase their 2016 cap numbers are Jamie Collins, Malcolm Butler, Duron Harmon, James Develin, Logan Ryan, Cameron Fleming, Jonathan Cooper, and Barkevious Mingo.
3.) They wish to roll over a great number of cap space into 2017 to make it easier to place the franchise tag on a player (most likely Dont’a Hightower or Jamie Collins)
4.) May want to trade for a relatively expensive player. – Added at 3:25 PM September 11
5.) They wish to roll over a great number of cap space into 2017 to make it easier to pay back cap space borrowed in 2011 and 2012. When the new CBA was agreed upon in 2011, the Salary Cap saw a reduction and, for the first few years, stagnation. Foreseeing this, the terms of the CBA allowed for teams to borrow ($3M in 2011; $1.5M in 2012) against future Caps, but forced teams to repay that amount during the 2014 through 2017 league years. The CBA left it up to the team to decide when to repay those amounts. I have been unable to determine if the Patriots borrow any cap space in 2011 or in 2012. But if they did, they will have to pay it back by the 2017 season. – Added at 5:55 PM September 14
6.) Plan to release a player or two during the season that will qualify for termination pay. – – Added at 5:55 PM September 14
7.) They expect players with NLBTE 46-man active roster bonuses to earn them. 46-man active roster bonuses are the only NLTBE incentives that when reached hits that year’s cap. If 14 Patriots play every remaining game, the Patriots will lose about $1.4M in salary cap space this year.

343,750 Solder, Nate
328,125 Edelman, Julian
187,500 Sheard, Jabaal
125,000 Long, Chris
100,000 McClellin, Shea
62,500 Waddle, LaAdrian
62,500 Cannon, Marcus
62,500 McCourty, Devin
46,875 Freeny, Jonathan
12,500 Chung, Patrick
12,500 Bolden, Brandon
12,500 Harbor, Clay
7,812 Ebner, Nate
25,000 Blount, LaGarrette
====================================
$1,376,562

As of 6:00 PM Thursday September 14 I have the Patriots salary cap space number as $9,583,260. That number will increase once I learn the details of the Tyler Gaffney injury settlement.

My twitter handle is @patscap.

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Posted Under: Individual Salary Cap
Tags: mccourty

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