The Cardinals and Jaguars have both traded veteran tackles this week, and in both deals those clubs are assuming the bulk of the money left on those contracts.
Arizona dealt Levi Brown to Pittsburgh for a conditional pick and Jacksonville dealt Eugene Monroe to Baltimore for a fourth and fifth-round pick -- and, due to their cap constraints, the Ravens and Steelers were able to get the other team to assume most of the remaining deals.
The contracts had to be reworked before the players could leave their current teams to take physicals with their new clubs. Monroe was supposed to fly to Baltimore Wednesday night with the trade set to be complete Thursday and become official. The Ravens are not making an immediate attempt to extend his contract but will monitor him and they could well initiate contract talks during the season. Monroe is eligible for unrestricted free agency after the season. Ravens right tackle Michael Oher is also in the final year of his rookie deal.
To facilitate the trade, the perennially struggling Cards and Jags converted most of the remainder of the salaries due to those players into bonuses those teams will pay. Some in the NFL were surprised that the draft pick compensation for these players was not higher to begin with, particularly with Monroe, and the finances of the deals surely favor their new teams.
Monroe, for instance, has a base salary of $3.8M this season, the last year of his deal. The Jaguars have already paid four weeks of that salary -- $894,000 -- and there was $2.91 million left on the deal. As part of his new contract, which kicks in once Monroe passes a physical Thursday and the trade becomes complete, the Ravens will be paying Monroe just $547,000 for the remainder of the year. (The veteran minimum salary for a player with Monroe's service time is $715,000, and he gets paid a prorated portion of the over the remaining 13 weeks.) The Jaguars assume the other $2.35 million as a bonus payment.
In the case of Brown, he has a $4.75M salary for this season, $1.12M of which was already paid. Brown, a seventh-year player, would have a minimum salary of $715,00 as well, paid by the Steelers over the remainder of this season ($547,000 total), while the Cardinals pay the remaining $3M as a bonus. Brown has three years left on his deal worth $5M per season, but the Steelers could release him at any time owing him nothing in those future years and without taking a future cap hit.
So the Ravens and Steelers have cap numbers for these players that are very manageable --$547,000 for both players. Baltimore came into the week with about $1.2M in cap space and the Steelers came in with about $1.9M in space.
Considering how much money their former teams absorbed, one can only imagine how much the Bucs might have to eat if they are able to move quarterback Josh Freeman, who has over $6M left on his deal.