The San Diego Chargers restructured Philip Rivers’ contract on Friday, possibly to make a final push to re-sign inside linebacker Donald Butler before the start of the season.
The restructured deal benefits both sides as Rivers gets his money upfront while the Chargers free up $3.32 million in cap space. Rivers will make the same amount of money this season – $12 million – but $5 million of his base salary was simply converted to a signing bonus. The bonus money will be counted over the life of the contract, meaning the cap hit is spread over the final three years of Rivers’ deal.
Despite his cap hit being spread more evenly over the next three seasons, Rivers will still need a big year in 2013 to remain in the Chargers’ plans in 2014 and beyond. The Chargers also spread the cap hits of Jared Gaither and Robert Meachem over the next few years after releasing the two this offseason.
Rivers made some headlines this week by saying he doesn’t think he needs to be “fixed” but the tape says otherwise. His 47 turnovers over the past two seasons is the second highest in the NFL only behind Mark Sanchez’s 52. Based on his current contract, cutting Rivers following the 2013 season won’t result in a big cap hit.
The timing of the restructure seems a bit strange (why didn’t they make this beneficial move earlier?), but San Diego could be creating cap space to finalize a contract extension for Donald Butler. Butler, who’s in the final year of his rookie deal, has been outstanding over the past two seasons and is already developing into a leader for the team. Butler and his agent aren’t expected to engage in contract talks during the season making the next few days crucial in determining the long-term future of the 24-year-old budding star. The Chargers open the season on Monday night, giving the team less than three days to finalize the long-term extension. If a new contract isn’t struck, the Chargers and Butler will likely resume talks immediately following the season.