Lions restructure contracts to clear cap space

Detroit wide receiver Nate Burleson was happy to help out when the Lions wanted him to restructure his contract to help keep some of their key players.

Burleson said Monday that he agreed to have his $4 million base salary for this year converted into a $3.125 signing bonus to save the Lions $2.17 million in salary cap space.

"I told them I'd do whatever it took," Burleson said in a telephone interview. "I'm still in a great position financially and I don't have to worry about the threat of them getting rid of me. It was just another confirmation that I made a great decision to come to Detroit."

Quarterback Matthew Stafford and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh have reportedly reworked their deals as well to assist the team's efforts in free agency that starts Tuesday. The Lions and agents for both players didn't return messages seeking comment.

Detroit hopes to retain offensive tackle Jeff Backus, cornerback Eric Wright and linebacker Stephen Tulloch and to extend receiver Calvin Johnson's contract before he plays the final year of his deal in 2012.

The Lions created some more cap space by releasing tight end Will Helller, an unsung player in their potent offense. The 10-year veteran has also played for Tampa Bay, Miami and Seattle.

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