It turns out the $15.1 million available cap space for the Cardinals, as estimated by overthecap.com, had also accounted for a restructuring of the remaining two years on linebacker Jordan Hicks’ contract.
Unlike center Rodney Hudson, the Cardinals didn’t simply move around money for Hicks. Like left guard Justin Pugh when he recently agreed to in his new deal, Hicks accepted a pay cut that will reduce his salary cap charge in 2021 by $3 million.
When Hicks came to the Cardinals as an unrestricted free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019, he signed a four-year, $34 million contract that included $20 million guaranteed in the first two years. He has been paid $22.9 million of that money.
That contract called for a $5 million base salary this year along with a $1 million roster bonus. That created a cap charge of $9 million, which included $3 million prorated from the $12 million signing bonus he received.
Hicks agreed to slash his base salary this year to $2 million, eliminate the roster bonus, while adding a potential $1 million in per-game roster bonuses. That latter total counts against the cap as likely to be earned incentive because he played all 16 games last season. With the signing bonus proration of $3 million, he will carry a $6 million cap figure in 2021 instead of $9 million.
Hicks’ compensation for 2022 in his original contract was identical to this year when the cap hit was expected to be $9 million. In the restructured contract, the base salary was lowered to $4.25 million, the roster bonus was lowered to $750,000 and the newly negotiated per-game roster bonus totaling a potential $1 million was also included.
It is believed Hicks will be due the roster bonus around the start of the 2022 league year, so the Cardinals would have to decide then whether to pay it and keep him on the roster.
The emergence of linebacker Isaiah Simmons and possible improvement from Tanner Vallejo and/or Ezekiel Turner could result in the Cardinals moving on from Hicks next year in his age-30 season.