Heading into the offseason, Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s 2024 contract loomed large. His $26,168,250 salary cap hit was scheduled to be the second largest on the team.

He seemed like a prime candidate for a pay cut, restructure or release, as multiple cap experts pointed out.

Sure enough, six hours before the start of the new league year, the deadline for teams to be cap compliant by the rule of 51, the news broke that Stanley had agreed to a reworked deal, which includes a pay cut but the opportunity to earn the money back.

Russell Street Report’s Brian McFarland reported Friday that Stanley’s new deal has created $9,617,647 of cap space.

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When a team restructures a contract, that means it reduces a player’s paragraph 5 salary (the amount he takes home each week) and converts the money into bonuses. Those bonuses can be prorated over the rest of the deal, reducing the cap hit from that year. However, Stanley had only one year left in his deal, so it would have shot an already high 2025 cap hit through the roof. The Ravens did some finagling, which included pay cuts, incentives and bonuses.

Here’s what we know about Stanley’s contract.

The guaranteed money

Stanley’s salary went from $11 million to $3 million, saving $8 million.

His original contract included a $4 million roster bonus, paid if he was still on the Ravens’ roster by the fifth day of the league year, that is now a $1 million bonus. That saves $3 million.

Stanley is also being paid a $3 million signing bonus for the new contract, which can be prorated over the rest of his contract (2024 and 2025), so it adds $1.5 million to his cap hit.

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Stanley has the opportunity to make back that money, and then some, but that $7.5 million is all the money that is guaranteed to be paid him in 2024.

Meanwhile, the Ravens’ 2024 cap hit now includes the $3.25 million from the prorated option bonus, $3.41825 million from the prorated previous restructure bonuses, $4.5 million from a previous signing bonus plus $1.5 million from the new signing bonus, the $3 million salary, $1 million roster bonus and $382,352 in roster game bonuses. That totals $17,050,603, over $9 million less than his previous cap hit.

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“It’s different than the standard restructure because there you’re committing to paying the player the same amount but pushing the cap hit into the future,” Eric Eager of SumerSports said. Here, there is the potential for Stanley to make less (or more) than in his previous contract.

The price of availability

The $4 million roster bonus turned $1 million roster bonus now includes a game incentive. Stanley will be paid a bonus for every game he is on the active roster. He can make up to $500,000 this season.

However, only $382,352 of this counts against the 2024 cap. Stanley played 13 of 17 games last year, and $382,352 is what he would make if he plays the same amount this year. Anything else is considered a “not likely to be earned” incentive.

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Not likely but possible

Stanley also has the ability to make up to $10 million more this season through incentives, including the $117,647 left of the roster game bonuses for games past 13. However, they’re “not likely to be earned” incentives, which means they don’t count against the 2024 cap.

These incentives are based on the player’s performance from the year before. They are paid only if the player reaches benchmarks that he did not reach the season before. Any thresholds he hits will count against next year’s cap.

“From the perspective of the cap, it’s a pay cut,” Eager said. “If he earns it back, it goes on next year’s cap. That’s why they stashed the void year, so it has somewhere to go.”

Goodbye, 2025

Originally, Stanley’s contract lasted through the end of the 2025 season. But 2025 is now a void year.

Usually, if a player has void years in his contract, and a team doesn’t re-sign him, all of his prorated cap hit accelerates onto the next season. However, Stanley’s deal always ended after 2025, so there’s nothing to accelerate.

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That means the Ravens still have to account for whatever is left in dead money, as well as any of the incentives he earned, but they don’t have to pay him his 2025 salary or 2025 roster bonuses. Stanley then becomes a free agent after this season.

What did the Ravens have to give up in exchange for this? By adding a void year over an existing year rather than tacking it onto the end of a contract, they lose the right to a compensation pick if Stanley leaves in free agency.

Already dead and gone money

Signing bonuses for new contracts and restructures are paid to the player at the time of the agreement. However, the team doesn’t have to count it toward the cap right away. It can spread the cap hit over up to five years.

Heading into 2024, the Ravens still had to account for $17,836,500 they paid Stanley in bonuses. They had planned to account for $11,168,250 in 2024 and $6,668,250 in 2025. Whether they cut Stanley now or next year, they have to pay that money at some point.

The Ravens also have to account for the $3 million signing bonus they paid him when they came up with this reworked contract.

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However, we don’t know if the Ravens have changed the amount they will count against the cap this year and next year.

Why would Stanley do this?

There’s the opportunity for him to make more money in 2024, but he’s missing out on his $16 million 2025 salary.

But the Ravens could have cut him this year or next year, and he still would have missed out. He would have then had to find a new team in free agency, and there’s no guarantee other teams would offer the same amount.

The timing of this restructure was key, as well.

“Free agency is a couple days in,” Eager said. “Teams already spent their blue chip money, so this was a negotiating tactic by the Ravens.”

Stanley also might have simply wanted to stay with the Ravens, and this was what it took. The team would have had more bargaining power, based on his age, injury history and desire to stay.

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