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Lions get cap relief as Stafford, Suh, Burleson restructure contracts

Lions Packers Football

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)


With one day to go before the start of the league year, the Lions are still over the salary cap. So they’ve restructured some contracts to change that.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver Nate Burleson have all restructured deals. Stafford and Suh surely just converted some of this year’s base salaries into signing bonuses that can be prorated over the rest of their contracts. It’s not clear whether Burleson took less money or simply restructured in the same way.

Suh’s agent, Rosey Barnes, told FOX Sports Detroit that the deal will save the Lions “a significant amount” of cap space. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes that Suh’s cap number was scheduled to be $12.8 million, but the Lions can cut that in half by converting his $9.25 million base salary into the league minimum and give him the difference as a signing bonus. Burleson’s deal saved about $2.17 million in cap space. The particulars about Stafford’s deal are not yet known.

The Lions have made clear that they want to work out a new deal with Calvin Johnson to clear up more cap space and get Johnson locked up for years to come, although there have been no reports that Johnson -- who is heading into the final year of his rookie contract -- is close to agreeing to terms.