Ben Roethlisberger’s contract situation is one of the top storylines entering the 2021 offseason. The 17-year veteran and two-time Super Bowl winner was set to count a little over $41 million against the books by the time March 17 rolled around. According to Over The Cap, the Steelers were heading into free agency with around -$11.7 million in cap space, so it’s clear something had to change.
News broke Thursday that Roethlisberger and the Steelers were able to restructure the final year of his deal. Per Adam Schefter, Roethlisberger’s re-worked deal will save the Steelers close to $15 million in cap space. Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network added that the money was spread out into voidable years, which Ian Rapoport clarified as four voidable years in a later tweet.
Ben Roethlisberger willingly reduced his pay to $14M from $19M in this final year of his contract and spread the cash payment through 2022, per source. It lowered the cap hit by over $15M, all so the team can make the right moves to be as competitive as possible this season.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 4, 2021
#Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger's new contract for 2021 utilizes a signing bonus, minimum base salary and voidable years to free up about $15 million of cap space, per source. Big Ben takes a $5M paycut, from $19M to $14M, giving the team much-needed breathing room.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 4, 2021
— $12.925M signing bonus.
— $1.075M base salary
— 4 voidable years to spread out the cap hit (technically a deal through 2025), voiding after the season.
So, 1 year, $14M with a greatly reduced cap hit. https://t.co/sFMQteqOQp
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2021
The Buccaneers don’t have this type of situation on their hands, but they are certainly dealing with some cap stress of their own. There are plenty of players who can help free up space. One name at the top of Tampa Bay’s list is Tom Brady.
Brady is no stranger to restructuring his contract. He did it numerous times for the Patriots. Right now, his cap hit is a little over $28.3 million. Tampa Bay has anywhere from $11.9 million in cap room to around $15.7 million in cap room, depending on who you ask. It’s not a lot of room when you consider who is on the Buccaneers’ list of free agents.
But Brady can help fix that. The only question is: how much? The aforementioned restructures with the Patriots reportedly cost Brady $60 million over the course of his career and his 2014 restructure freed up $24 million in cap space.
I mean, talk about a hometown discount. It’s not unreasonable to think that Brady can save the Bucs a lot of money if they are able to work something out.
This isn’t your usual, young-quarterback-with-plenty-of-years-left situation. Both Big Ben and Brady are playing on borrowed time, which adds a layer to the equation. Adding the voidable years on the end of the deal is a necessary evil. Brady’s restructures eventually cost the Pats around $13.5 million in dead money in 2020. Drew Brees’
potential eventual departure will cost the Saints a pretty penny, as well. But at the end of the day, the Bucs are “going for two”, so they can afford to gamble with the future a bit.
There’s a good chance the Buccaneers could follow in the Steelers’ footsteps and re-work Brady’s current contract in this fashion. Only time will tell.
The good news, though, is that we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out.