How does this help the Steelers? Pittsburgh now should be close to being under the salary cap. The Steelers were reportedly $14 million over the cap, and if my math is correct, they have created $14 million in cap space by restructuring the contracts of Roethlisberger, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and wide receiver Antonio Brown. There is still more work to be done. The team needs to gain more cap room because it needs to tender contracts to restricted free agents (like wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders) and sign other free agents (potentially wide receiver Steve Breaston).
How does this help the Ravens? By having Roethlisberger convert his 2013 salary into a signing bonus, the exclusive franchise tag for quarterbacks (which is the average of the top five salaries for the position) went down to $19.08 million. The tag had been $20.4 million before Roethlisberger and Tom Brady reworked their deals. The Ravens will put the tag on Joe Flacco if they can't reach a long-term deal with the Super Bowl MVP in five days. It didn't matter if the Steelers had waited until after March 4 to restructure Roethlisberger's contract. The franchise tag counts as $14.7 million (exclusive and non-exclusive) until all of the salaries are finalized in April. That's when the exclusive franchise tag number has to be accounted for under the cap.
How does this help Roethlisberger? Restructuring Roethlisberger's contract decreases his salary-cap number in 2013 but it inflates it for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. His cap number next season is projected to be around $18 million. At that point, with two years remaining on that deal, the Steelers would likely approach Roethlisberger about a new contract in 2014. Just don't expect it to be such a team-friendly deal like the one signed by Brady earlier this week.