The New England Patriots have restructured cornerback Stephon Gilmore’s contract to free up salary cap space, according to NFL Players Association records.
The Patriots, who were dangerously up against the cap, now have $5,379,817 in breathing room. They created $3.71 million in 2018 cap space with the move.
They did it by converting $4.95 million of Gilmore’s base salary into a fully guaranteed roster bonus prorated over four years, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported Saturday. Gilmore’s cap hits in 2019 through 2021 will rise by $1.2375 million.
The Patriots needed cap space just to finish out the season to pay out NLTBE (not likely to be earned) roster bonuses, the Boston Sports Journal’s Miguel Benzan explained last week. This move frees up more than enough space for the Patriots to finish out the year.
They also possibly freed up cap space with next week’s NFL trade deadline in mind. The last day for NFL teams to trade players is Tuesday, Oct. 30 by 4 p.m.
The Patriots might need to pay out over $2.5 million in NLTBE bonuses so they could acquire a player who carries about a $2.8 million cap hit.
It’s difficult to predict who the Patriots could acquire. Linebackers Deone Bucannon and Jamie Collins have been mentioned as possibilities, but their contracts still could restrict the Patriots from adding them through a trade. The Patriots could use depth at running back, defensive end and linebacker.