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Patriots create $5.31 million in salary cap space by restructuring Jonnu Smith’s contract

Related: Reviewing New England’s initial 2022 team after cutdown day

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The New England Patriots freed up some needed salary cap space Friday, restructuring tight end Jonnu Smith’s contract.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots converted $7.965 million of Smith’s salary into a bonus, gaining $5.31 million in cap space in the process.

Before the move, the Patriots were set to enter the season with just over $4 million in cap space. As the team usually needs more than that to operate throughout the season, Smith’s restructure now leaves New England with just under $9 million in space, per Miguel Benzan.

Earlier this week before the 53-man roster cutdown, director of player personnel Matt Groh noted the Patriots were keeping an eye on the cap space throughout the process.

“All those numbers are being crunched and there is certainly a factor and consideration,” Groh said. “There is certainly a financial component with younger players that you bear in mind. ... We’ve got somebody who’s really, really, really, smart who makes sure we stay on top of all those numbers.”

After signing a four-year, $50 million deal last offseason, Smith’s first season in New England did not live up to the payday. He’ll will look to rebound in year two, and signs of a bounce back have shown on the practice fields where he’s been heavily involved in the offense.

Going forward, Smith’s restructure will increase his salary in 2023 and 2024 by over $2.6 million. Smith was not in danger of being cut in 2023 due to the guaranteed money he’s owed, so the slight salary increase next year for roster flexibility this season is a worthwhile exchange.