Published: Monday, March 12, 2012, 11:44 AM
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2012, 11:58 AM
Many Detroit Lions players previously said they believed their team could compete for a Super Bowl title one day.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver Nate Burleson apparently are willing to do their part off-the-field.
According to multiple reports, all three players have restructured their contracts to give Detroit some salary cap relief before free agency starts tomorrow. Suh was slated to make $9.25 million in 2012 - ($12.8 million salary cap). Stafford's base salary was $10.5 million ($16 million salary cap), while Burleson was slated to receive $4 million ($4.97 million salary cap).
Burleson will make $4 million this season, but the rest will be converted into a signing bonus and spread out over three years of his contract. It is unclear if Suh and Stafford converted their base salaries into signing bonuses that can be prorated over the rest of their contracts.
The restructured contracts will help Detroit, which reportedly was more than $11 million over the cap. Detroit - as well as the other 31 NFL teams - has until 4 p.m., Tuesday (the start of free agency), to comply with the new salary cap figure. This year's figure is $120.6 million compared to $120.375 million last season.
Detroit is still working on a long-term deal for receiver Calvin Johnson. The new deals will help clear up more cap space to re-sign Johnson as negotiations continue. It also could give Detroit more money to throw at free agent linebacker Stephen Tulloch and cornerback Eric Wright.
In addition, Detroit recently placed franchise tag on defensive end Cliff Avril, which will pay him a little more than $10 million this season. The Lions are still interested in signing Avril to a long-term deal, which could clear up more cap space if it happens.