Despite using a few of them in recent years, Buffalo Bills general manager Brandon Beane has said he’s not a big fan of doing salary-to-bonus contract restructures. Beane spoke with the media from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
In NFL contracts, signing bonuses are spread out over the remaining years of the deal while base salary is accounted for in the current year. A salary-to-bonus restructure gives a player nearly all of their money up front in the form of a new signing bonus and spreads out the cap hit over multiple seasons. Beane isn’t a fan, likening it to a credit card.
“The restructure; a dollar saved today is a dollar you have to pay tomorrow,” said Beane.
All of the money paid eventually has to be accounted for, and it makes the later years of the deal even more expensive. If that player is cut, it also leads to bigger dead cap hits.
“I’m not going to sleep at night unless I got a roster that I think can win the whole thing,’ said Beane. “I don’t want to just go for it this year or the next two years and then all of a sudden, sitting there in two years saying ‘Brandon, you’re 92 million over the cap.’”
Beane might not say it out loud, but that’s exactly the situation the New Orleans Saints are in right now. They currently sit $42 million over the salary cap, but in December they were $61 million over the projected 2022 cap. The Green Bay Packers have also cleared massive amounts of cap space over the last two weeks in an attempt to re-sign WR Davante Adams and keep QB Aaron Rodgers.
He is correct in not wanting to risk the future for the present. When Sean Payton saw the oncoming train, he cut bait and stepped away. Sean McVay has set up a similar exit strategy with the Los Angeles Rams continuously sending picks to pay veterans. He’ll land on his feet with a TV deal before he rebuilds the Rams.
Just because he doesn’t like doing it doesn’t mean he hasn’t. They created more than $10 million in cap space a year ago by spreading out the salary of Stefon Diggs and Tre’Davious White. Adding void years has the same effect, and Buffalo did that with Emmanuel Sanders a season ago.