Patriots, Steelers restructure contracts with Brady and Roethlisberger

The calendar has flipped to March, and several NFL teams are on a frantic pace to restructure contracts in order to become salary-cap compliant by 4 p.m. Eastern time on March 12.

The New England Patriots did a restructure with quarterback Tom Brady, while Pittsburgh did the same with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a few other players in its seemingly annual scramble to reach cap compliance.

The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys are also in the midst of changing deals to lower cap numbers for the 2013 league year while adding cap dollars for future years. The cap is expected to be $123 million.

The deals for Brady and Roethlisberger also could affect what the Baltimore Ravens decide to do with quarterback Joe Flacco, with Monday (March 4) the deadline for teams to place franchise or transition tags on players. Currently, no teams have officially applied the franchise tag.

In addition, the Ravens might also be helped by a restructuring possible between the Detroit Lions and quarterback Matthew Stafford.

The non-exclusive franchise tag would result in a tender of about $14.6 million for Flacco, money that counts immediately against the cap. If the Ravens were able to negotiate a long-term deal with Flacco, it would likely mean a lower cap figure, and open the door for the Ravens to deal with other free agents like safety Ed Reed, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Cary Williams.

With a non-exclusive tag, the player can negotiate with other teams, but an offer sheet not matched would result in two first-round picks as compensation. The exclusive tag, based on the five highest cap numbers at the position for 2013, prohibits the player from talking to other teams.

Prior to the restructures that lowered the cap numbers for Brady and Roethlisberger, the exclusive tender cost about $20.46 million. With Brady and Roethlisberger dropping out of the top five, it is now $19.136 million.

Stafford currently has the highest cap figure of any quarterback at $20.82 million, so a restructuring would further lower the exclusive tag.

As for teams looking for a quarterback, the market doesn't provide much in attractive talent. That resulted in Kansas City reaching a tentative agreement with San Francisco to acquire quarterback Alex Smith for a second-round pick this year (34th overall) plus a conditional third-round pick in 2014 that could become a second-round selection depending on Smith's performance. There is also a possibility that Kansas City might receive a third-day pick from the 49ers in the fifth, sixth or seventh round. The trade can't become official until after the league year begins.

It is believed Seattle plans to keep Matt Flynn as the backup to Russell Wilson.

Following is a look at the top five players at each position, with the estimated franchise tag in parentheses.

Quarterbacks ($14.6 million)

Joe Flacco, Baltimore (expected to be franchised)

Matt Moore, Miami

Jason Campbell, Chicago

Drew Stanton, Indianapolis

Brian Hoyer, Arizona

Running Backs ($8.1 million)

Steven Jackson, St. Louis (expected to void contract by March 12)

Reggie Bush, Miami

Shonn Greene, N.Y. Jets

Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh

Cedric Benson, Green Bay

Ahmad Bradshaw (released by Giants)

Best of the rest: Felix Jones, Dallas; LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona

Wide Receivers ($10.4 million)

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas CityMike Wallace, Pittsburgh

Greg Jennings, Green Bay

Wes Welker, New England

Devery Henderson, New Orleans

Best of the rest: Jerome Simpson, Minnesota; Danny Amendola, St. Louis; Steve Breaston (released by Chiefs); Ted Ginn, San Francisco; Joshua Cribbs, Cleveland

Tight Ends ($6.0 million)

Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta (expected to retire)

Dustin Keller, N.Y. Jets

Fred Davis, Washington

Delanie Walker, San Francisco

Martellus Bennett, N.Y. Giants

Best of the rest: Jared Cook, Tennessee; Anthony Fasano, Miami; James, Casey, Houston; David Thomas (released by Saints)

Tackles ($9.7 million)

Ryan Clady, Denver

Jake Long, Miami

Branden Albert, Kansas City

Andre Smith, Cincinnati

Sebastian Vollmer, New England

Best of the rest: Phil Loadholt, Minnesota; Gosder Cherilus, Detroit; Sam Baker, Atlanta; Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans; Bryant McKinnie, Baltimore; Winston Justice, Indianapolis

Guards ($9.7 million)

Andy Levitre, Buffalo

Brandon Moore, N.Y. Jets

Kory Lichtensteiger, Washington

Lance Louis, Chicago

Louis Vasquez, San Diego

Best of the rest: Stephen Peterman (released by Lions); Ramon Foster, Pittsburgh; Kevin Boothe, N.Y. Giants

Defensive Ends ($11.0 million)

Michael Bennett, Tampa Bay

Michael Johnson, Cincinnati

Cliff Avril, Detroit

Osi Umenyiora, N.Y. Giants

Robert Geathers, Cincinnati

Best of the rest: Kyle Vanden Bosch (released by Lions); Israel Idonije, Chicago

Defensive Tackles ($8.3 million)

Henry Melton, Chicago

Randy Starks, Miami

Chris Canty, (released by Giants)Sammie Lee Hill, Detroit

Corey Williams, Detroit

Best of the rest: Cullen Jenkins (released by Eagles); Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans

Outside Linebackers ($9.4 million)

Anthony Spencer (DE), Dallas

Paul Kruger (DE), Baltimore

Dwight Freeney (DE), Indianapolis

Shaun Phillips, San Diego

Connor Barwin, Houston

Best of the rest: Calvin Pace (released by Jets); Michael Boley (released by Giants); Erik Walden, Green Bay

Inside Linebackers ($9.4 million)

Dannell Ellerbe, Baltimore

DeAndre Levy (OLB), Detroit

Scott Shanle, New Orleans

Rey Maualuga, Cincinnati

Brian Urlacher, Chicago

Best of the rest: Bart Scott (released by Jets)

Cornerbacks ($10.7 million)

Brent Grimes, Atlanta

Sean Smith, Miami

Mike Jenkins, Dallas

Derek Cox, Jacksonville

Cary Williams, Baltimore

Best of the rest: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Philadelphia; Bradley Fletcher, St. Louis; Chris Houston, Detroit; Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo; Aqib Talib, New England; Nate Clements, Cincinnati

Safeties ($6.8 million)

Dashon Goldson, San Francisco

Jairus Byrd, Buffalo

William Moore, Atlanta

Glover Quin, Houston

Ed Reed, Baltimore

Best of the rest: Louis Delmas, Detroit; Kenny Phillips, N.Y. Giants; Corey Lynch, San Diego; LaRon Landry, N.Y. Jets; Eric Smith (released by Jets)

Kickers ($2.9 million)

Phil Dawson, Cleveland

Josh Brown, Cincinnati

Lawrence Tynes, N.Y. Giants

Jason Hanson, Detroit

Nick Folk, N.Y. Jets

Punters ($2.9 million)

Shane Lechler, Oakland

Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City

Donnie Jones, Houston

Kevin Huber, Cincinnati

Pat McAfee, Indianapolis