In need of salary cap space to allow for a recent series of free agent signings, the Lions reduced the 2013 base salaries for Suh and Johnson, converting them into signing bonuses. By doing so, the players will earn the same amount of money, but Detroit can create salary cap space in 2013 by spreading the bonus over the rest of the contract.
In Suh's case, he reduced his 2013 base salary from $12.15 million to $630,000 with the move creating $7.68 million in 2013 cap space. Johnson reduced his $5 million base salary to $715,000 which will save Detroit $3.428 million next season.
While the moves will benefit Detroit in 2013, there could be long-term repercussions. Converting base salary into signing bonuses will increase the cap hits for Johnson and Suh in the coming seasons. Suh's cap hit in 2014 will jump to over $21 million. Johnson will account for $13.058 million next season, but his cap numbers will jump including a $24.008 million cap hit in 2016.