Heap restructures contract

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap has restructured his contract, creating additional salary-cap space for the team to be able to afford linebacker Terrell Suggs if they make him their franchise player.

With more room under the salary cap, the Ravens can position themselves to put the franchise tag on Suggs at a cost of $8.065 million next season if a long-term deal isn't worked out prior to a Feb. 21 league deadline to use the designation.

The Ravens had been estimated to be between $5 million and $6 million under the salary cap, and general manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed earlier this week that the team plans to use the franchise tag on Suggs if a new deal isn't worked out.

The business transaction frees up approximately $1.7025 million in cap space, but not at a personal cost to Heap.

Under the NFL collective bargaining agreement, players' base salaries can be converted into a signing bonus. Heap will receive $2.27 million in the form of a bonus.

Heap was scheduled to be paid a $3 million base salary this season, but now his 2008 salary is down to $730,000. His salary-cap number for this year is down to $3.49 million from $5.2 million.

"I'm sure guys will be willing to do whatever they can do to make our team better within the boundaries of good business decisions for themselves and their families," new Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Tuesday when asked whether the team planned to try to restructure any player contracts, including Heap's. "I'm sure Todd is no different. Getting to know Todd the last few times that we've talked, he wants to be successful and he wants the team to be successful. I'm sure he would help."

The $2.27 million would be pro-rated over the course of a deal that runs through the 2011 season.

Under the terms of Heap's contract extension, his previous annual pro-ration of his signing bonus was $2.2 million. Now, the number is up to $2.767 million per season.

In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Heap is scheduled to be paid base salaries of $3.6 million, $4 million and $4.6 million, respectively. His corresponding salary-cap figures for those seasons will be $6.367 million, $6.767 million and $7.367 million.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection battled a hamstring injury last season, eventually being placed on injured reserve. He was limited to 23 receptions for 239 yards and one touchdown.

Heap has been rehabbing his leg and doing his offseason training at the Ravens' training complex.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.


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