Ending their season after the AFC championship game for the third time in four seasons, the Patriots have experienced some staff turnover and now face decisions on who to prioritize in the long-term.
Here is the latest on how the Patriots plan to go about this.
- Chandler Jones enters the final season of his rookie deal and stands to play out 2016 on his fifth-year option, which is worth $7.79MM. Although the Patriots could extend their explosive defensive end, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes the more likely scenario would be for the team to be cut, traded or play his season on this one-year extension of sorts rather than receive a lucrative long-term offer from the team. Jones led the Pats with 12.5 sacks this season, his second with double-digit sacks, but the troublesome incident involving police toward the end of the season could put the brakes on New England offering the 25-year-old a long-term deal soon. Volin views fellow 2012 first-rounder Dont’a Hightower as a likelier extension choice. Also set for a fifth-year option season, the inside linebacker is set to earn $7.75MM next season.
- Danny Amendola and Sebastian Vollmer are players in danger of being released before the new league year begins, Volin writes. Both struggled in 2015 and can each create just more than $4MM in cap savings by being jettisoned.
- The Patriots almost certainly will release the injury-prone Jerod Mayo rather than pay him the $4MM roster bonus he’s due March 9, Volin offers. A Mayo release saves the team $7MM on next year’s cap. The former first-team All-Pro missed 10 games in the 2013 and 2014 seasons before being used sparingly in 2015, his sixth with the Patriots. Mayo’s due to occupy the second-highest cap figure on the team next season at $11.4MM.
- Rob Gronkowski‘s six-year, $54MM deal he signed in June 2012 includes a $10MM option bonus. The Patriots paid $4MM of that last year, Volin reports, and paying the additional $6MM of this bonus before March 9 will trigger the rest of Gronkowski’s extension, which has four more seasons and $34MM on it. The superstar tight end will only carry cap numbers worth $6.6MM and $7MM the next two seasons before those figures vault to $11MM and $12MM in 2018 and ’19.
- Nate Ebner will be the likeliest of the Patriots’ expiring contracts to re-up with the team, Volin writes, with LeGarrette Blount potentially coming back but only on a near-league-minimum accord. The Patriots reporter expects Akiem Hicks, who will net the Pats a compensatory pick, to depart.
- Of the Patriots’ RFAs, only fullback James Develin looks to receive a tender, Volin notes. Sealver Siliga, Brian Tyms and LaAdrian Waddle comprise the remainder of the Patriots’ restricted free agency contingent.
- Lions GM Bob Quinn hired former co-worker Harold Nash to be the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Volin reports. Nash served in that capacity with the Patriots for five years. Assistant strength coach Moses Cabrera is ready to fill Nash’s post, team sources tell Volin. Nash’s contract wasn’t renewed with the expectation he’d receive a head strength job elsewhere.
- The recent departures among Patriots staffers and front office personnel were more about greater opportunities elsewhere than the organization’s dissatisfaction, Volin reports. New Chargers offensive line assistant Dave DeGuglielmo was viewed internally as a short-term option rather than a cornerstone assistant, Volin reports, and new Giants defensive line coach Patrick Graham probably had more room for upward mobility in New York than in New England given Matt Patricia‘s entrenchment as the Pats’ DC.