It all makes sense now.
As the Detroit Lions cut several veterans with bloated salaries and who were non-scheme fits from their roster last week, they kept one potential cap casualty around.
Defensive tackle Nick Williams agreed to a pay cut for the 2021 season, according to NFL Players Association records. Williams will make a base salary of $1.25 million this fall, instead of the $4.1 million he was due to make on the free agent deal he signed last spring.
Williams’ pay cut amounts to $2.5 million in total, as he received a $500,000 bonus up front and cut his per-game roster bonus to a total of $250,000 (or $15,625 per game) from $400,000, according to OverTheCap.com.
In the process, his cap hit for 2021 goes from just under $5.5 million to $1.969 million.
The Lions cut seven players at or near the start of free agency last week, including three of their biggest free agent signings from 2020: Desmond Trufant, Chase Daniel and Danny Shelton.
The moves, along with Williams’ pay cut, freed up more than $28 million in cap space the Lions have used to trade for Michael Brockers and sign their free agent class that includes Charles Harris, Jamaal Williams, Tim Boyle and Breshad Perriman.
Brockers agreed to a contract extension as part of his trade that created an additional $4 million in cap space.
Super Bowl shuffle
The Lions put an interesting incentive in long snapper Don Muhlbach’s contract.
Muhlbach signing another minimum salary benefit deal, his ninth straight, according to paperwork filed with the NFLPA. His contract includes a $1.075 million base salary, a $50,000 signing bonus, another $50,000 if he wins the long snapper job in the form of a gameday roster bonus and a potential $37,500 Super Bowl bonus.
It’s not clear if the bonus is for winning or making the Super Bowl — the Lions have never done either — but it’s a nice perk to aim for in what could be Muhlbach’s final NFL season (though we say that every year).
With a low guarantee, the Lions are setting things up for another long snapper competition this fall. If he makes the team for an 18th straight season, Muhlbach will count $880,000 against the cap.