Teams aren’t required to get under the 2011 salary cap until the 2011 League Year officially begins. And the 2011 League Year is expected to officially begin on Thursday.
For teams like the Steelers, who reportedly are currently $10 million over the $120 million spending limit (actually, they’re only $7 million over the limit because every team has the discretionary ability to exceed the 2011 cap by $3 million), it means that they’ll have to create cap space, quickly. To help the effort in Pittsburgh, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has agreed to restructure his contract, according to the Associated Press.
Signed in 2008, Roethlisberger is operating under an eight-year, $102 million deal. But before we all applaud Big Ben for “taking less” Peyton-style, the man who gets paid like Manning isn’t absorbing a pay cut.
Instead, it’s a so-called “simple restructuring,” in which salary to be earned in the future is converted to a signing bonus, which is then spread over the remaining years of the deal. For example, converting $5 million in salary to a signing bonus would spread the $5 million over the final five years of the contract — and free up $4 million in 2011 cap room.
In recent years, this device has been used far less frequently. In 2010, with no salary cap, it wasn’t needed at all. In the several years prior to that, with the 2006 CBA giving more money than ever to the players, teams didn’t need to resort to such devices to create current cap room, since plenty of teams were well below the spending limit.
The device merely defers until tomorrow cap charges that could be taken today. And so, eventually, some teams will find themselves in what used to be known loosely as cap purgatory, requiring drastic reductions that can’t simply be made by asking the franchise quarterback if he’d be willing to take a lot of his money right now, instead of later.