October 8, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Zack Martin (70) warms up before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys G Zack Martin adjusts contract for cap relief

Seven-time All-Pro guard Zack Martin restructured his contract with the Dallas Cowboys to provide the franchise roughly $13 million under the 2024 salary cap, according to multiple reports.

Martin received an amended contract prior to the 2023 season that included $36 million guaranteed and made him third in the NFL in annual salary at his position. Martin’s contract is scheduled to expire after the upcoming season, but his new deal includes three voidable years to allow for spreading out a dead-money charge over multiple seasons, ESPN reported Friday.

Martin turns 34 in November, and the Cowboys expect changes on the offensive line with left tackle Tyron Smith likely to move on after spending 10 seasons on the same front five as Martin, a first-round pick in 2014.

Smith was drafted in the first round in 2011 and has played only for the Cowboys during his NFL career.

–Field Level Media

Dec 21, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; The NFL shield lgo on the field at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL salary cap rises to record $255.4M

The 2024 salary cap surged to a record $255.4 million per team, up more than $30 million from last season.

The NFL made the massive increase official on Friday and announced each club will have $74 million for player benefits, which includes both money for performance incentives and benefits for retirees to raise the total player personnel spending to $329.4 million per team.

Teams had a salary cap of $224.8 million in 2023 and projections of a cap limit around $240 million were off by more than 50 percent. The increase in spending is due to new media deals as well as a finalizing of the books to remove advances and deferrals necessitated by the pandemic from the league ledger.

With the new cap set, only six teams were over the salary cap for 2024 as of Friday. That includes the New Orleans Saints, who have a league-high $321 million on the books for player contracts in 2024.

The Washington Commanders have nearly $100 million and a league-high cash surplus factoring in the $30 million increase for the 2024 cap.

Teams had been operating under the estimation that they would see a salary cap increase of around $14 million.

Clubs have until the start of the new league year — March 13 at 4 p.m. — to get under the salary cap.

The cap has risen annually since 2011, except for 2021, as the league prioritized recovery from the pandemic, including loss of live attendance gate and concessions profits.

In 2011, the cap was $120.37 million. It crossed the $200 million barrier in 2022 at $208.2 million.

The NFL also released what clubs must pay players should the teams use the franchise tag or the transition tag, per position.

Franchise tag:
Quarterback: $38.3 million
Running back: $11.9 million
Wide receiver: $21.8 million
Tight end: $12.7 million
Offensive lineman: $21 million
Defensive end: $21.3 million
Defensive tackle: $22.1 million
Linebacker: $24 million
Cornerback: $19.8 million
Safety: $17.1 million
Kicker/punter: $6 million

Transition tag:
Quarterback: $34.4 million
Running back: $9.8 million
Wide receiver: $19.8 million
Tight end: $10.9 million
Offensive lineman: $19 million
Defensive end: $19.1 million
Defensive tackle: $18.5 million
Linebacker: $20 million
Cornerback: $17.2 million
Safety: $13.8 million
Kicker/punter: $5.4 million

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) reacts to a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Saints begin annual cap-clearing with QB Derek Carr restructure

New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr agreed to restructure his contract to convert more than $28 million of his scheduled $30 million salary to a bonus, creating sorely needed salary cap relief.

The details of the accounting were confirmed by Spotrac, which projected the Saints to be over the $246 million adjusted salary cap by more than $74 million before the conversion.

The annual salary-gap gymnastics are a matter of course in New Orleans, where it has become typical to reach the required maximum expenditure threshold with extensions and conversions before the NFL league year begins every March.

Carr, 32, signed a four-year, $150 million contract in March 2023 after he was released by the Las Vegas Raiders. His scheduled cap hit for 2024 before the restructure becomes official was $36 million and included a portion of his deferred signing bonus.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) runs for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Rams restructure Cooper Kupp deal, save $10.4M against cap

The Los Angeles Rams restructured the contract of star wide receiver Cooper Kupp, clearing $10.44 million in salary cap space for 2023, ESPN reported Wednesday.

The Rams achieved the savings by converting $13.92 million of Kupp’s salary into a signing bonus, per the report. The Rams had only $1.3 million in cap space available before this move and have yet to sign all of their 2023 draft picks.

Kupp’s 2022 season ended prematurely after he sustained a high ankle sprain on Nov. 13 in a home loss against the Arizona Cardinals. He later underwent surgery.

Kupp had 75 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns in nine games last season. He led the NFL in catches (145), receiving yards (1,947) and TD receptions (16) in 2021 and was named NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He also earned Super Bowl LVI MVP honors in the Rams’ win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Rams signed Kupp, 29, to a three-year, $80.1 million contract extension in June 2022.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (99) leaves the field Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, after losing a game 20-3 against the Los Angeles Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Colts rework DeForest Buckner’s deal to clear $2.5M

The Indianapolis Colts cleared $2.5 million in salary cap space by restructuring defensive tackle DeForest Buckner’s contract, according to multiple reports.

The Colts converted $5 million of Buckner’s 2023 salary into a signing bonus.

The 29-year-old veteran will earn a fully guaranteed salary of $19.75 million this season.

Indianapolis now has $22.4 million in cap room — the fourth most in the NFL, according to OverTheCap.com.

Buckner recorded eight sacks, 22 quarterback hits and 74 tackles in 17 games (16 starts) last season.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection and 2020 All-Pro has 53 sacks, 140 QB hits, 463 tackles and nine fumble recoveries in 112 games (109 starts) with the San Francisco 49ers (2016-19) and Colts.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa (97) against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Chargers restructure Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack deals

The Los Angeles Chargers reportedly restructured the contracts of linebackers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, freeing up $25.99 million in cap space and bringing the Chargers closer to cap compliancy ahead of next week’s start of the new league year.

The Chargers recently restructured Keenan Allen’s deal to save $8.9 million in cap space, as well as that of fellow wide receiver Mike Williams to save $5.46 million.

The Chargers now have $17.295 million in cap space, per Spotrac.

The restructuring of Bosa’s and Mack’s contracts provides short-term cap relief for the coming season, though the cap hits increase in 2024 to $36.6 million for Bosa and to $38.5 million for Mack.

Bosa, 27, is a former No. 3 overall pick who has played seven seasons with the Chargers, earning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2016. In 2022, the four-time Pro Bowler was limited to only 2.5 sacks in five games due to a groin injury that required surgery.

Mack, 32, played eight seasons with the Raiders (2014-17) and Bears (2018-21) before being traded to the Chargers before the 2022 season. He was named to the Pro Bowl six consecutive seasons from 2015-20 and was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. Mack had eight sacks in 17 starts last season.

–Field Level Media

May 23, 2022; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Ronald Darby (23) during OTA workouts at the UC Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Broncos release Graham Glasgow, Ronald Darby, Chase Edmonds

The Denver Broncos made a series of cap-saving moves Friday by releasing offensive lineman Graham Glasgow, cornerback Ronald Darby and running back Chase Edmonds, several outlets reported.

The release of Glasgow saves Denver $11 million, Darby saves the franchise $9.6 million and Edmonds saves it $5.9 million, according to reports.

Glasgow, 30, was entering the final year of a four-year, $44 million contract. He has played guard and center during his seven-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions (2016-19) and Broncos (2020-22). He appeared in all 17 games for Denver last season, starting 13.

Darby, 29, was a starting cornerback for the Broncos before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in Week 5. In two seasons with the Broncos, Darby had 67 tackles, a forced fumble and no interceptions across 16 games (all starts). He previously played for the Buffalo Bills (2015-16), Philadelphia Eagles (2017-19) and Washington (2020).

The Broncos acquired Edmonds, 26, from the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 1 in the trade that sent outside linebacker Bradley Chubb to Miami. Edmonds then suffered a high ankle sprain during Week 11 and returned in late December.

Edmonds only made five appearances and one start for the Broncos, taking 26 carries for 125 yards and catching six passes for 61 yards without a touchdown. In 70 career games (18 starts) with the Arizona Cardinals (2018-21), Miami and Denver, Edmonds has 401 rushing attempts for 1,796 yards and 11 touchdowns along with 144 receptions for 1,078 yards and six scores.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) and guard Zack Martin (70) celebrates a touchdown  scored by running back Tony Pollard (not pictured) during the second half against the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys restructure deals for Dak Prescott, Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys cleared about $30 million in cap space Friday by restructuring the contracts of quarterback Dak Prescott and right guard Zack Martin.

The moves put the Cowboys under the 2023 salary cap with the free agency window opening next week.

Prescott was guaranteed $31 million for next season and carried a $49.1 million cap hit. The team converted $29 million of his salary into a signing bonus, clearing $21.75 million of cap space, per Spotrac.

Dallas also converted $12 million of Martin’s 2023 salary into a signing bonus, clearing another roughly $9 million in cap space.

Prescott, 29, passed for 2,860 yards with 23 touchdowns and a league-high 15 interceptions in 12 starts (8-4 record) last season.

Martin, 32, made his eighth Pro Bowl and earned his sixth first-team All-Pro selection after starting all 17 games last season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 14, 2023; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) against the Los Angeles Chargers during a wild card playoff game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Jaguars rework deals, clear $26M in cap space

The Jaguars created $26.14 million in 2023 cap space by restructuring three deals, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Jacksonville converted a total of $32.657 million in base salary into signing bonuses for wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and guard Brandon Scherff.

All three players signed free agent contracts with the Jaguars during the 2022 offseason.

Kirk, 26, set career highs across the board with 84 catches for 1,108 yards and eight TDs in 17 starts in 2022.

Jones, 27, also established career highs with 82 catches for 823 yards and added five TDs in 16 games (15 starts).

Scherff, 31, started all 17 games for an offense that finished 10th in both scoring and total offense last season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) takes the field before a wild card game against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Tom Brady files retirement papers, Bucs take $35M cap hit

Tom Brady filed his retirement paperwork with the NFL and NFL Players Association on Friday, several reports said, cementing the seven-time Super Bowl winner’s Feb. 1 announcement that his playing days were over.

Brady retired last winter, walked it back 40 days later and played one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers got three seasons with Brady, winning a Super Bowl in his first year on the scene and losing in the playoffs the next two seasons.

Now the bill has come due for Tampa Bay, as it will take a full $35 million dead-cap hit in 2023 as a result of Brady’s retirement.

Had Brady worked with the Bucs on a contract amendment to keep Brady on the books with so-called voidable years and processed his retirement after June 1, they would have been able to split the dead-cap hit between 2023 and 2024. Instead, multiple reports said, all $35 million will be assessed in 2023, putting Tampa Bay nearly $60 million over the salary cap.

The team’s remaining options at quarterback as of now are Kyle Trask and unrestricted free agent Blaine Gabbert.

Brady played in the Super Bowl 10 times — or 18 percent of all Super Bowls to date — was a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player and a 15-time Pro Bowl selection. He spent his first 20 seasons with the New England Patriots before joining the Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 season.

–Field Level Media