The bad news for the Lions is that they were such a bad team that they had Top 2 draft picks in three straight years from 2007 to 2009. The good news for the Lions is that unlike in earlier years, the Lions actually drafted well with their high picks, taking Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh.
The bad news about that is those were the last three years before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement brought sanity to the rookie salary structure, and the Lions had to spend a fortune on Johnson, Stafford and Suh. The good news is that they’re getting some short-term salary cap relief from restructuring two of those contracts.
According to Yahoo Sports, both Johnson and Suh agreed to restructure their deals so that they’re making a base salary of the league minimum this season and making the rest of their money as a signing bonus that can be prorated over the remainder of their deals. The two restructured deals created about $11 million in 2013 cap space.
In other words, neither Johnson nor Suh is taking less money, and their cap hits are just being pushed forward into the future, meaning that $11 million bill will come due in future years. But in a year when the Lions’ top decision makers, including G.M. Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz, have to know that their jobs are on the line if they don’t win, it was important for them to be able to make deals with free agents like Reggie Bush and Glover Quin now, not to worry about the future. Without restructuring Johnson and Suh, the Lions wouldn’t have had the cap space to make those moves.
If the Lions are able to parlay these moves into a playoff season in 2013, they’ll gladly deal with those cap hits in the future. If the Lions play in 2013 like they did in 2012, it may be a general manager other than Mayhew and a coach other than Schwartz dealing with those cap hits in the future.