According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Bucks have re-signed outside linebacker Shaq Barrett in a necessary move to stay active throughout the season. Barrett, 31, enters the third year of a four-year deal he signed before the 2021 season. The move will increase the required cap quota for the 2023 season by $10,468,000. Previously, the team had room for him just over $1,000,000 apiece. Over the cap.
As of 4 p.m. ET today, the NFL’s Top 51 cap space rule will be phased out for this season.
Many teams have created cap space through contract restructuring.
49ers George Kittle/Trent Williams: $23,224,000
Ravens’ Marlon Humphrey: $7,536,000
Seahawks’ Jamal Adams: $6,613,000
Backs: Shaq Barrett:…
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 6, 2023
The Bucks had to make the decision to restructure one of three contracts to ensure that practice team players had enough cap space to pay for other costs they would face throughout the season. The three contracts were either Barrett, wide receiver Mike Evans or linebacker Devin White.The team is embroiled in contract extension disputes with both sides Evans and White, The choice to rebuild Barrett turned out to be the most rational option.
Restructuring defers cap obligations to the future
While the move would increase cap space this year, it would also reduce the space the Bucks have in 2024 and beyond. Before the move, Barrett was already expected to count $23.65 million against his salary cap in 2024, and a $9.55 million “deadcap” fee in 2025 when his contract expired. . Now those figures have increased to his $26.267 million and his $17.401 million respectively.
The move is just one of several necessary restructurings the Bucks have been forced to do for cap management from 2020 to 2022, with the team joining former starting quarterback Tom Brady in a Super Bowl berth. I was trying to maximize my quota. In addition to restructuring Barrett, the team also restructured the contracts of wide receiver Chris Godwin, cornerback Carlton Davis III, center Ryan Jensen and nose tackle Vita Vera.
Bucks decision effectively locks Barrett to 2024 roster
In restructuring Barrett’s contract, the Bucks must guarantee his previously unguaranteed salary during the restructuring. This will increase the amount of “dead money” associated with the 2024 and beyond Barrett cap amount. This creates a situation where even if the Bucks wanted to step up from Star Pass Thrasher next year, various factors (age, injury concerns) effectively prevent them from doing so. Barrett’s on-roster cap number is the aforementioned $26,627,000, but if they decide to fire Barrett, they’ll be liable for $27,801,000 due to accelerated deadcap claims.
Teams could sort of sidestep this problem by waiting until June 2nd to release him. If they choose that policy, they could fire Barrett in 2024 with a $9.267 million penalty, saving the cap $17 million. But it doesn’t help during free agency, as his $26,627,000 cap has to hold on until June 2, long after the best free agent has signed elsewhere. Additionally, the Bucks will face a $17,401,000 deadcap charge in 2025 as well.
Barrett’s Achilles tendon injury likely delays this move
The Bucks could have pulled the trigger on this move months ago. Had this been done in March, along with the restructuring of Godwin, Davis, Jensen and Baer, there would have been a bit more room for free agency and signing an additional veteran player or two. Then they wouldn’t have to rely so much on a bunch of new people. The team likely chose not to include Barrett in that restructuring because of the uncertainty at the time of his recovery from the season-ending Achilles injury sustained last fall.
Achilles tendon injuries are notoriously difficult to reverse. Recovery usually takes about a year, beyond which most players do not return to their pre-injury level of play until the second year after injury. As Barrett approached his 31st birthday, the team was likely worried that he would never return to his status as the NFL’s true number one. Thankfully, Barrett was explosive not only in limited minutes during the preseason, but also during training camp.
The restructuring leaves the Bucks with about $11.5 million in cap space for the 2023 season. It currently ranks 18th in the NFL in projected cap space for the 2024 season.