- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter
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It’s rare that a contract restructure means a pay cut. Usually, it’s simply a matter of shifting base salary into signing-bonus money to help a team’s salary cap. Players generally end up making the same amount they were supposed to in a given year, but getting the money as a signing bonus gives them more time to collect interest.
But the case of New Orleans middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma is anything but ordinary. Vilma, who is facing a possible suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program, took a pay cut when he restructured his contract recently.
Vilma’s new deal includes a $1 million signing bonus, but his base salary dropped from $5.4 million to $3.3 million for 2012. The Saints also added a $600,000 roster bonus, which might not come into play, if Vilma is suspended. The deal also kept a $100,000 workout bonus. In short, the cash value of Vilma’s deal for this year, dropped from $5.5 million to $3.3 million. For the Saints, the important thing is that Vilma’s cap figure for this year dropped from $7.6 million to $4.9 million.
Vilma didn't have to take a cut for 2013, but some things were adjusted. His cap figure dropped from $8.6 million to $8.1 million. Vilma’s 2013 base salary was lowered from $5.9 million to $4.8 million, but he can recoup that money because the new deal includes a $1.1 million roster bonus.
The Saints also restructured the deal of cornerback Jabari Greer, but that was a different story. The Saints gave Greer a three-year contract extension that helped them lower his cap figure this year. Greer’s new cap figure is $5.4 million. It had been scheduled to be $6.25 million. Greer’s base salary for this season dropped from $5.4 million to $2.4 million, but he collected a $5.3 million signing bonus. Greer also is scheduled to earn a $100,000 workout bonus and can earn an extra $1 million this year in incentives and escalators.
Greer’s extension includes $11.3 million in guaranteed money. The total value of the deal is $21.1 million, but that could rise to just over $22.5 million if he hits on all incentives and escalators.
It’s rare that a contract restructure means a pay cut. Usually, it’s simply a matter of shifting base salary into signing-bonus money to help a team’s salary cap.