Barry Cofield agrees to contract restructuring with Redskins (updated)

Barry Cofield hopes to take his production - and that of the entire Redskins defense - to the next level. (Toni Sandys/Washington Post)

Barry Cofield (96) has agreed to rework his contract, saving the Redskins salary cap space this season (Toni Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Washington Redskins have agreed to a contract restructuring with defensive tackle Barry Cofield to save room on this season’s salary cap, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The reworking of Cofield’s contract saves the Redskins about $2.4 million in salary cap space.

Cofield agreed to reduce his salary to the league minimum for a player of his experience level and converted the difference to bonus money that the team could prorate over the remainder of his contract for cap accounting purposes, the person with knowledge of the deal said.

Cofield was to have a salary of $4.05 million this season. Instead, his base salary is reduced to $840,000 and he receives $3.21 million in bonus money. The Redskins can prorate that bonus over the remainder of Cofield’s contract, which runs through the 2016 season. Cofield’s contract now counts about $3.9 million against the Redskins’ salary cap this season instead of $6.3 million.

The Redskins were about $1.3 million under the salary cap at last check. But on Tuesday, teams must count all their players against the cap instead of only the top 51 players who count against the cap during the offseason.

General Manager Bruce Allen said during training camp that the team would have to rework some players’ contracts to remain under the cap for the regular season.

The Redskins are in the second year of their two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty imposed on them by the league last year for the manner in which the team structured players’ contracts during the sport’s season without a salary cap in 2010. The NFL, with the approval of the players’ union, found that the Redskins technically violated no salary cap rules but attempted to gain an unfair competitive advantage. The Dallas Cowboys were found to have used similar tactics and had their salary cap reduced by $10 million over two years. The teams denied wrongdoing and challenged the cap penalties in arbitration but had the case dismissed.

Update (5:08 p.m.): Cofield and Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan confirmed Cofield’s contract restructuring.

“They came to me, asked me to do it to help the team, and I’m more than willing to help the team,” Cofield said after Monday’s practice. “It doesn’t really change my situation too much — just some complex math that my agent had to explain to me on how it helps the team. So if it frees up money for the team and shows somewhat of an investment in me for the future, from what I’m told, they don’t bother doing that type of thing for guys they don’t plan on having in the future. So it shows some confidence in me and I plan to repay it.”

Shanahan said later: “One of the reasons we had to restructure Barry Cofield’s contract is we lost a few guys that we weren’t counting on [losing].”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

What’s ahead:

● The next Redskins to hold news conferences are Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III after practice on Wednesday.

● The NFL season kicks off Thursday night with Baltimore at Denver.

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