Last week, the Detroit Lions executed a relatively minor restructuring of receiver Calvin Johnson's contract, freeing about $3.4 million of salary-cap space for 2013. Simply put, restructures push the created space into future years. This particular change won't have a major impact, but it's a bit alarming that the Lions have already started this process just a year after signing Johnson to his record-breaking seven-year contract extension.
With that in mind, let's look at Johnson's future salary-cap numbers. His original cap numbers, before the restructure, are in parenthesis:
2013: $8.773 million ($12.2 million)
2014: $13.058 million ($12.2 million)
2015: $20.558 million ($19.7 million)
2016: $24.088 million ($23.2 million)
2017: $21.357 million ($20.5 million)
2018: $17 million
2019: $18.250 million
(The final two years did not change because signing bonuses can only be pro-rated over a maximum of five years.)
Looking ahead, you wonder what might happen in 2015, when Johnson's cap number spikes above $20 million. There is a vague sentiment around the NFL that television money will have raised the salary cap by then, but that projection is not a certainty. By that time, it's possible the Lions will be juggling cap numbers of monster extensions for quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as well.