As most of the NFL world continues to be consumed by Colin Kaepernick rumors and draft talk, let’s take a look at some notes from the Patriots, who are quietly preparing to make a run at their eighth consecutive AFC East title:
- Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com weighs in on Patrick Chung‘s recent contract extension, observing that the Patriots took the $1.8MM that Chung was likely to earn in playing-time incentives in 2016 and 2017 and turned it into a $1.8MM signing bonus, along with an extra $600K. In return, Chung added one year to his contract, keeping him under club control through 2018. New England, as Reiss notes, frequently turns incentives into signing bonus money as part of a win-win strategy that makes the player happy by giving him upfront cash and makes the team happy by keeping a productive player in the fold for another season. The extension was therefore not, as some have suggested, a simple display of generosity on the part of the Patriots as a reward to Chung for a job well done; there are rarely any giveaways in Foxborough, and the Chung contract was no exception.
- In the same piece, Reiss opines that the one-year, $4.5MM deal Terrance Knighton recently inked with New England sounds a little high, given that the team was unwilling to make that kind of commitment for Akiem Hicks and Nick Fairley and consequently missed out on both players. Reiss believes that Knighton’s base pact is more likely to be closer to $2MM, with realistic incentives that could push it to $3MM and less realistic incentives that could max out at $4.5MM.
- Knighton is just the latest in a long list of defensive tackles who sign on with the Patriots in the latter stages of their careers hoping to rekindle or continue their success, as Christopher Price of WEEI.com writes. Keith Traylor, Ted Washington, Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Tommy Kelly, and Alan Branch have all landed with New England relatively late in their careers, and you can pretty much count on New England bringing at least one such player aboard every offseason.
- Just as the Patriots converted some of Chung’s incentives into a signing bonus, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe believes the team will likely do something similar in the near future with Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Volin writes that New England will probably take future base salaries for Edelman and Gronkwoski–both of whom are significantly underpaid when compared with the going market rate for their respective positions–and convert them into signing bonus money in an effort to keep them happy and focused.
- Volin does observe that the Patriots have already prepared for Gronkowski and Edelman to be at least little unhappy with their current deals. The contracts for both players call for $250K workout bonuses for attending 90% of the team’s offseason practices, by far the highest workout bonuses of any Patriots player, so if they were to protest their contracts by skipping offseason workouts, they would miss out on a fair amount of money.