Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) during the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pats rework Jonnu Smith’s deal, clear $5.31M in cap space

The New England Patriots reworked tight end Jonnu Smith’s contract to clear cap space, ESPN reported Friday.

By converting $7.965 million of his base salary into a bonus, the team created $5.31 million in 2022 in cap space.

The Patriots signed Smith in March 2021 to a four-year, $50 million deal with $31.25 million fully guaranteed.

Before the move, New England was about $1.5 million over the 2022 salary cap, according to Overthecap.com.

Smith, 27, caught 28 passes for 294 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (11 starts) with the Pats in 2021.

He has 142 receptions for 1,596 yards and 17 scores in 76 games (64 starts) with the Tennessee Titans (2017-20) and New England.

The Patriots open the season at Miami on Sept. 11.

–Field Level Media

Sep 29, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) in the second half against the Dallas Cowboys at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints rework Marshon Lattimore’s deal, clear $18.45M

The New Orleans Saints cleared $18.45 million in salary cap space by restructuring Pro Bowl cornerback Marshon Lattimore’s contract, the NFL Network reported Saturday.

Lattimore, 25, signed a five-year, $97.6 million extension in September. The Saints converted his base salary for 2022 into a signing bonus, per the report.

He started 16 games in 2021 and registered 68 tackles, 19 passes defensed and three interceptions while earning his fourth Pro Bowl selection in five seasons.

Lattimore has 298 tackles, 13 interceptions and five fumble recoveries in 73 games (all starts) since New Orleans drafted him 11th overall in 2017.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; London, England, United Kingdom; A general overall view of the NFL Shield logo at midfield during an NFL International Series game between the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Salary cap climbs to $208.2M for 2022

The NFL’s salary cap is expected to hit $208.2 million in 2022, bringing the league back from reductions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, per reports.

NFL Network detailed the figure that was agreed upon by the NFL and the NFL Players Association in May and is expected to be made official next week at the league’s labor seminar.

Teams are playing this season under a salary cap of $182.5 million, a reduction from $198.2 million in 2020, as part of an agreement to help spread a revenue shortfall from pandemic-related losses over multiple years.

–Field Level Media

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Julio Jones (2) walks the sideline during an NFL preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021 in Tampa, Fla.

Nas Titans Bucs 021

Report: Titans rework Julio Jones’ deal, free up $11.2M

The Tennessee Titans created $11.2 million in cap space by restructuring the contract of wide receiver Julio Jones, ESPN reported Tuesday.

The team converted $14 million of Jones’ salary into a signing bonus, per the report. The team also added two void years. As a result, Jones will have a cap hit this season of $4.1 million.

Jones, 32, is in his first year with the Titans after a June trade with the Atlanta Falcons.

He returned to practice on Aug. 24 after being held back for three weeks. Jones left practice early on Aug. 2 after he landed awkwardly when catching a pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill and had been sidelined since.

Jones, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, missed seven games with assorted injuries in 2020. He has 848 receptions for 12,896 yards and 60 touchdowns in 135 games (134 starts), all with the Falcons.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA;  General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: NFL, NFLPA agree to $208.2M salary-cap ceiling in 2022

The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to set a salary-cap ceiling of $208.2 million for 2022, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

The NFL salary cap dropped to $182.5 million for 2021 due to revenue shortfalls related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2020 season. If the 2022 cap were to reach the new limit, it would mark a 14-percent increase over the 2021 season and also represent a new high for the league. The cap for the 2020 season was $198.2 million.

Currently, there is not an agreed upon cap floor and the final salary cap won’t be set until February. That final figure could land below $208.2 million depending on revenue projections; however, if it exceeds that number, any excess would go toward paying back the $17 million in player benefits that were canceled last season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) and quarterback Dak Prescott (4) watch a pass against the Miami Dolphins at the end of the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys gain $18.9M in OL restructures

Sep 27, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints cornerback Janoris Jenkins (20) against the Green Bay Packers during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Three of the five starting offensive linemen for the Dallas Cowboys adjusted their contracts to free up a total of $18.975 million on Thursday.

The Cowboys officially restructured the contracts of left tackle Tyron Smith, right tackle La’el Collins and guard Zack Martin, per multiple reports.

The Cowboys were down to around $1 million in available cap prior to the moves, NFL Network reported.

Injuries impacted all three blockers last season.

Smith, who played in only two games, was rumored to be considering retirement, but the Cowboys are planning for his return.

Martin played in 10 games but wound up on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Collins played 15 games last season after starting all 16 his previous two seasons.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2020; Tampa, FL, USA;  General view of the NFL Shield logo on the field before Super Bowl LV between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: NFL salary cap to be set at $182.5M

The NFL has informed every team that this year’s salary cap will be set at $182.5 million, a 7.9 percent decrease from last season, per multiple reports Wednesday.

Last year’s salary cap was $198.2 million before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with league revenues.

This year’s cap was set in conjunction with the NFL Players Association based on 2020 results and 2021 projections as owners anticipate a significant rebound in attendance from the capacity restrictions last season. Attendance in 2020 was slashed 93 percent due to the pandemic.

An NFL-NFLPA agreement to spread out the players’ losses over three years allowed the cap to be higher than expected.

Last month the league and NFLPA set the floor at $180 million, up $5 million from their previous agreement.

The new league year begins March 17.

–Field Level Media

Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA; NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith speaks during a press conference ahead of Super Bowl LV, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. Mandatory Credit: Perry Knotts/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Report: NFLPA chief tells agents to collude on free-agent offers

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told player agents they should collude on free-agent offers to keep teams honest on the reduced salary cap, ESPN reported.

Smith made the comments during an all-agent seminar on Thursday, ESPN reported, citing a person on the videoconference.

Smith expects the 2021 salary cap to be close to the $180 million floor negotiated by the league and the NFLPA, per the report. The cap was $198.2 million last year, prior to the coronavirus pandemic slashing team and league revenues.

Smith told the agents it’s OK to work together to get best possible terms for players, per the report.

While teams are not allowed to collude, there’s no law against players exchanging information, per the report.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick talks with quarterback Cam Newton (1) before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Belichick: Salary cap issues contributing to Patriots’ woes

Bill Belichick said his New England Patriots lack their customary depth and veteran experience, in part because of salary cap restrictions.

The Patriots are off to an uncharacteristic 2-4 start and face the Buffalo Bills (5-2) on Sunday. The Bills lead the AFC East, which the Patriots have won 17 times since Belichick took over the team in 2000.

“We’re playing more young players than we’ve played in the past (for a) combination of reasons,” Belichick told Sirius XM NFL Radio.

“We were pretty heavily invested in our team in the past few years. From a salary-cap standpoint, we didn’t have much flexibility at all.”

After Tom Brady’s departure in the offseason, the Patriots signed quarterback Cam Newton to a bargain-basement contract — one year, $1.05 million with just $550,000 guaranteed — but the former league MVP hasn’t produced a winning record.

The Patriots also had eight players opt out of the 2020 season amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, including linebacker Dont’a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung and running back Brandon Bolden. Their opt outs have left the Patriots with more than $20 million available cap space this season, but that will shrink when they come back on the books for 2021.

“This is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years. We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years. That’s provided more opportunity for younger players. So it’s a combination of all the reasons,” Belichick said.

The Patriots started 2-1 but have lost three straight since Newton tested positive for COVID-19, scoring a combined 28 points.

“We had a good training camp,” Belichick told Sirius XM. “We played pretty well the first three weeks of the season. And then I’d say we regressed over the next two and a half weeks for a combination of reasons. We’re trying to make that ground back up and more. We need to keep going forward. So that’s what we’re doing.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 29, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (90) gestures after being called for a penalty in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cowboys clear $12M in cap space with Lawrence deal

The Dallas Cowboys reportedly created $12 million in salary-cap space Friday, money that could potentially be used to sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term deal.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero said the Cowboys signed defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a one-year voidable extension, converting $15 million of his 2020 base salary into a signing bonus and clearing $12 million in cap space this year.

According to Over The Cap, Dallas already had $17 million in cap space before this latest move. The Cowboys plan to roll the extra cap space over to 2021, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Lawrence, 28, was already under contract through 2023. The voidable year in 2024 spreads the $15 million bonus over an additional year to lessen the short-term burden for accounting purposes.

Turning his base salary into a signing bonus also ensures Lawrence that he will get paid this season even if games get canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection has 39 sacks, 242 tackles and 11 forced fumbles in 80 games (63 starts) since the Cowboys drafted him in the second round in 2014.

–Field Level Media