With very little fanfare, it was reported over the weekend that the Oakland Raiders had restructured Tommy Kelly’s contract to free up cap space for the 2012 season. Bryan McIntyre first reported it on Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner although the Raiders have yet to officially announce the move.
This is a move that had been much anticipated in the offseason, but it never happened. Everyone kept waiting for the shoe to drop. Many people thought Kelly was in line for either a trade, or an outright release in the wake of the team’s salary cap woes. Time passed by, players were released (Stanford Routt, Kamerion Wimbley), others were restructured (Carson Palmer, Michael Huff, Richard Seymour), but Tommy Kelly’s contract remained untouched.
It remained that way until the very last possible minute, just before the first regular season game against the Chargers. It was at that point, when the Raiders were faced with one of the lowest available cap spaces in the league ($2.3M), that they finally restructured Kelly’s contract.
According to the Yahoo Article, Kelly’s base salary for 2012 will be the veteran minimum for a player in his 9th season, as Kelly is, of $825,000. His base salary was at $6M going into the season. When factoring in his new base salary and adding the pro-rated amount of his overall salary, the Oakland Raiders were able to free up $3.45M in cap space.
Yes, Tommy Kelly went from a 2012 base salary of $6M down to just $825,000 but I wouldn’t feel sorry for him, he’s not losing a single penny in the deal. It’s just an accounting game that the NFL makes teams play in order to comply with the salary cap. Al Davis was a master at it, which is why there were so many “out of whack” contracts. The contracts made sense to Davis who had his own funny way of dealing with the cap. Every year the Raiders were “in the red” going into the season only to have a couple of players restructure at the last minute…just like Reggie McKenzie did with Kelly. Maybe things aren’t so different after all?