Kansas City Chiefs defensive end Tyson Jackson did a similar alteration this month, a league source said Sunday, voiding the 2014 season in his contract with the prospect that he could hit the open market as soon as 2013.
The 2014 seasons in Smith and Jackson's deals practically were set to void, per the language in the original contracts, but now it's official. While Smith's sixth year already was set to void, the fifth year -- 2013 -- also was eliminated as part of his negotiation, so he would become an unrestricted free agent next year, barring an extension.
With the NFL salary cap staying stagnant and a cost-efficient draft wage scale in place, the market has re-calibrated, and these deals are win-wins for Smith and Jackson, who were the No. 2 and No. 3 picks, respectively, in a 2009 draft class that largely hasn't met expectations. The negotiations weren't acrimonious, sources said, and both sides gain from it.
Jackson was scheduled to make over $8 million in 2012; he'll now receive $4.25 million in base salary, with $4 million guaranteed. Jackson also carries a $14.72 million salary ($3.2 million guaranteed) in 2013, but it's highly improbable he would receive that money since he would carry a $17.5 million cap figure. The Chiefs have sufficient salary-cap space and could handle that huge 2013 number if Jackson plays at a level worthy of it, but it's likely his deal either would be restructured again, or he would be let go.
If Jackson continues to develop and produce, the Chiefs would be well positioned to do a long-term deal with him, and sources said the team is impressed with his character and maturity -- as evident by his handling of this new contract -- as well as his on-field growth. On Jackson's end, he loves the scheme in Kansas City and wanted to stay.
Follow Jason La Canfora on Twitter @JasonLaCanfora