By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore restructured his contract with the Patriots, freeing up salary cap space to use for the 2019 season while increasing his cap hit in later seasons. ESPN's Field Yates first reported the news on Twitter.
The Patriots reportedly converted $8.5 million of Gilmore's $9.5 million salary into a signing bonus. Presumably prorated over the next three seasons, that creates $5.67 million of space for 2019 but adds $2.83 million to his 2020 and 2021 hits.
Per Miguel Benzan of the Boston Sports Journal on Twitter, the Patriots have just over $8.2 million in cap space after the Gilmore restructure. His figure also factors in recent pay-bumps for James White and Lawrence Guy.
Clearing cap space remains among the Patriots' offseason priorities as they prepare for the draft and continue to explore additions through the free agency and trade markets. Recent reports indicate that extra space may not come via pay cuts for either linebacker Dont'a Hightower ($10.9 million cap hit) or safety Devin McCourty ($13.3 million hit).
The Pats could conceivably do a similar restructure with Hightower, who is signed through 2020. Converting $6 million of his $7 million 2019 salary into a signing bonus could free up another $3 million, but increase his 2020 cap hit to $14.3 million. Not an ideal move, but feasible if they want to maximize their space for 2019.
Another widely expected space-saving move is an extension for Tom Brady, who carries a $27 million cap hit as he enters the final year of his contract. But his top receiver, Julian Edelman, could also be due a raise on his bargain-bin $2 million salary.
For now, Gilmore is the only high-priced Patriot to maneuver his money.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].