Ketchman: How Cuts Affect Lions Salary Cap

In order to understand what happens to the Lions salary cap when we start the regular season, some common terms and phrases need to be understood. George Ketchman explains it all, along with yet another wonderful, in-depth breakdown of the team's salary cap. (Also: More information on Leigh Bodden's extension, and its impact on the salary cap)

As the start of the season approaches, the salary cap will be calculated differently. Beginning with the first game of the season, all money will be counted against the cap, not just the Top 51 player contracts. Player cuts can yield some salary cap charges for the current season, the following season, both or neither. In order to understand what happens to the Lions salary cap when we start the regular season, some common terms and phrases need to be understood.

  • Current year player cap charge is the charge that I've been calculating and posting in this blog for each free agent or drafted pick that is signed.
  • Dead Cap or Dead Money is cap charges that have to do with a player that is no longer with the team.
  • Current year cap savings (charge) - When a player is released or traded, their is a current year cap impact and potentially a future year cap impact (if that player is signed beyond the current season). Typically when a player is released, the team will save on money not yet played to a player, for the most part this is the base salary and can also include roster bonuses and/or incentives, depending on when they are due.
  • Future year cap savings (charges) - When a player is signed beyond the current season, his trade or release will have an impact on future years. After June 1st, all unamortized signing bonuses are accelerated to the following season (2009). Unless there are guarantees associated with the contract, the team will save by not being obligated to pay base salaries, Roster or Workout bonuses or incentives, but will be charged for all unamortized signing bonuses.

According to Nate Caminata's Projected Roster for the offensive line, the Lions would have $16,915,056 tied up in 9 players and an additional $8,720 in Dead Cap in 2008.

Current year Cap Charges:

2008 Dead Cap if Released or Traded:

  • Jeff Backus - $2,823,176
  • Gosder Cherilus $1,280,000
  • Dominic Raiola - $970,000
  • Edwin Mulitalo - $750,000
  • George Foster - 306,720
  • Manny Ramirez - $117,053
  • Jonathon Scott - $51,053
  • Frank Davis - $8,387
  • Stephen Peterman - $6,720
  • Corey Hulsey - $6,720
  • Carroll Madison - $2,000
  • Andy McCollum - $0
  • Nick Jones - $0


Leigh Bodden's extension was finally updated in the NFLPA salary database, about two weeks after it was announced. Bodden had two years remaining on the contract that he had originally signed with the Cleveland Browns and reportedly agreed to a 4 year $27M extension. The original contract called for base salaries of $1.7M (2008) and $1.8M (2009) with playing time and interception incentives totaling $1M (2008) and $818,750 (2009). Bodden reportedly received a $2M signing bonus and has an $8.6M non-guaranteed roster bonus due in March of 2009. The new contract calls for base salaries of $700K (2008), $2.5M (2009), $3.5M (2010), $4.35M (2011), $3.45M (2012) and $4.4M (2013). The Lions generally don't have incentives tied to individual performances (i.e. interceptions), so I'd assume that the incentives were removed when they extended his contract and adjusted his base pay for 2008 and 2009. The contract likely includes various workout and roster bonuses due in the later years of the contract. Before signing the extension, Bodden's 2008 cap cost was $2.7M. Assuming the above, for 2008, Bodden would count $1,033,333 against the cap.

  • $700,000 Base Pay
  • $333,333 SB Amortization ($2M over six years)

Teddy Lehman was placed on Injured Reserve on August 4th and subsequently released on August 8th. Normally when a player is placed on Injured Reserve, they are done for the season and receive their base pay or split salary (if applicable). In Lehman's case, he'd be entitled to a split salary of $295,000. His injury wasn't significant enough for him to miss the entire season, but was significant enough for him to miss an extended period of time. Lehman likely received an injury settlement for quite a bit less than his split salary amount and will now have the option to sign on with another team later in the year.

Updated Kenneth Moore - When I originally estimated his signing bonus, I used the 2007 signing bonus of a player drafted at roughly the same overall position. The Lions have typically signed their 3rd round and lower draft picks to three year contract, but not all teams do this. The 2007 signing bonus that I used to estimate Moore's 2008 signing bonus was for a four year contract. Consequently, his 2008 estimated signing bonus should be about $281,000 instead of $381,000. The adjustment won't effect the Lions current salary cap, but will adjust his 2008 cap cost to $388,667.

  • $295,000 Base Salary
  • $93,667 SB Amortization ($281,000 over three years)

Based on the above, I'd estimate that the Lions are currently $4.2M under the salary cap.

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