Thanks to an excellent write-up by Smackdad over at GangGreenNation.com we know that the Tom Brady restructure will actually shrink the Patriot's cap space by one million in 2015, 2016, and 2017:
Here's what's really going on. Tom Brady will be paid $1 Million more in base salary per year for the next three years. That INCREASES the Patriots' cap spending by $1 Million per year, and DECREASES the Patriots' cap room by a corresponding $1 Million per year. Not only did this restructure provide zero extra cap space, it cost the Patriots $1 Million per year in cap space starting in 2015.
In exchange the Patriots got the removal of the skill guarantee on Brady's base salary over the next three years.
In essence Brady gave the Patriots a short-term loan and in return received an extra 3 million spread out over three seasons.
Contrast this "restructure" with the restructure Peyton Manning gave the Broncos last season:
Manning restructure provides cap relief in '13 '14
It was reported that the Broncos and Peyton Manning negotiated his contract in order to provide the Broncos 10 million in injury insurance for 2014. New details have emerged that a portion of his guaranteed base salary was converted to a cash advance which effectively frees up cap room this year and next year.
Instead of earning $20 million in fully guaranteed base salaries in 2013 and 2014, Manning received a $10 million salary advance and his base salaries in 2013 and 2014 have been lowered to $15 million in each season. The $10 million salary advance is treated like a signing bonus and will be prorated over the next four seasons, reducing Manning's cap number from $20 million to $17.5 million in both 2013 and 2014.
This move was beneficial to both parties and provided the Broncos with 5 million in extra cap space as opposed to taking away money from the cap space like Brady's restructure.
As far as other possible restructures to Peyton's contract, though it's possible to cook the books, you almost always end up dumping millions in future seasons in the form of dead money. As currently structured, Manning will have 2.5 million in dead money the final season in his contract.
So in the end what have we learned?
Peyton Manning restructured and SAVED the Broncos cap space. Tom Brady restructured and COST the Patriots cap space.