NFL players routinely restructure contracts to create salary cap space. In most cases, the player gets the same amount of money; cap space is created when base salary becomes signing bonus. In other cases, the team squeezes the player to take less, under a subtle (or not) threat that refusal will result in termination.
Then there’s the rare case of a player who voluntarily gives up money to create cap space.
After Sunday night’s Super Bowl victory, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians told Peter King of NBCSports.com that receiver Mike Evans already has offered to reduce his compensation for the good of the team.
“Mike Evans is the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever met,” Arians said. “He’s told us to use some of his money if we need to contracts to keep the team together.”
The Buccaneers have a long list of looming free agents, from receiver Chris Godwin to linebacker Shaq Barrett to receiver Antonio Brown to tight end Rob Gronkowski to linebacker Lavonte David to defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Evans is due to earn $12.5 million in 2021. He has a cap number of $16.6 million.
It’s one thing for Evans to make the offer. It’s another for the two sides to reach an acceptable deal.
Players generally should try to get what they can while they can, leaving it for the team to manage the cap. That could be more of a challenge this year, with the cap likely dropping to the range of $180 million. So maybe they’ll take Evans up on his willingness to take less. And maybe they’ll work out a deal.
Evans at a minimum should seek protection against the possibility of having a big season. Maybe, for example, the deal should add incentives that would give Evans some money back, with the cap charge landing in 2022.
Regardless, the cap will be a challenge for plenty of teams in 2021. The Bucs will likely have to do a lot more than get Evans to give up some money to balance things out.