The NFL’s salary cap rules change from the offseason to the regular season, and one of the big changes is the Rule of 51, which went away at 4pm last Wednesday.
Throughout the off-season, only the players with the 51 largest cap hits for the season will be counted toward the salary cap.
Teams have been making salary cap moves since then through contract restructures like the one that Washington did with LT Charles Leno today. He had two years left on the 3-year, $37.5 million contract extension that he signed after the 2021 season. Washington didn’t add any actual time to the deal, but they did convert $7.5 million of Leno’s 2023 base salary($9.25 million) to a signing bonus that will be spread out over 3 added void years. This move saves the team $6 million on the 2023 cap. The Washington Commanders had the lowest available cap space in the league($524,601) before today’s move according to Over the Cap. They now have $6,992,601.
Washington hasn’t had any reported free agent visits since their season opener on Sunday, and this is likely just a move to free up money for injury replacements during the season. Vested veterans(at least 4 NFL seasons) who are signed after Week 1 won’t get fully guaranteed 1-year deals. Vet around the league have been signing deals, and there are a lot of players still looking to sign with teams.
Contract restructures to create cap room on the eve of the season (all done on Saturday):— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 12, 2023
Vikings OT Brian O’Neill: $9.99M created
Commanders OT Charles Leno: $6M created (3 void years added)
Packers OT Yosuah Nijman: $2.54M created (4 void years added)
The Commanders converted $7.5M of Charles Leno’s base salary this year into a bonus, and tacked on three additional void years to his contract to clear $6M in salary cap room, per source.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 12, 2023
Charles Leno’s contract before it was restrutctured
Charles Leno’s contract after it was restructured