Patriots Make Offer To S Kyle Dugger

MARCH 4: Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda reports the Patriots’ Dugger offer checks in at an annual average value of $13MM. That falls well short of the cost of a franchise tag, but the structure of the pact in terms of guaranteed money and its length will of course be major factors for Dugger’s camp to consider. If no agreement is reached by 3:00pm central on Tuesday, New England will be forced to apply the tag or allow him to test the market.

FEBRUARY 29: Rumored as a franchise tag candidate, Kyle Dugger remains a priority for the Patriots. The young safety would be among the top defenders available if he reaches the open market. The Pats are trying to prevent that.

Less than a week before the deadline to apply franchise tags,’s Karen Guregian and Mark Daniels report the team has submitted an offer to Dugger. Absent a tag, the Pats have until 11am CT to negotiate exclusively with Dugger. At that point, unsigned players are free to speak with other teams in the tampering window.

[RELATED: 2024 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates]

The cap spiking to $255.4MM has made it more expensive to tag a safety; that number checks in at $17.12MM. This is considerably higher than what it took for the Bengals to keep Jessie Bates off the 2022 market ($12.9MM). That complicates matters for the Pats. The Giants are believed to be considering the lesser-used transition tag for safety Xavier McKinney; that would cost $13.82MM. A transition tag does open the door to offer sheets, as no compensation comes back to teams in the event of an unmatched offer. A franchise tag all but slams the door on a player signing elsewhere.

Already prepared to spend more than they traditionally do in free agency, per Jerod Mayo, the Patriots giving GM power to Eliot Wolf does make that somewhat interesting. The Packers were not known for such activity during Wolf’s time under Ted Thompson. But Green Bay regularly retained its own talent during that long-running regime. In Dugger and Michael Onwenu, the Patriots have two players who are set to be top UFAs soon. The team is also trying to retain Onwenu, but the versatile O-lineman may well reach the open market.

You definitely want those pieces to stay,” Mayo said of Dugger and Onwenu, via MassLive. “You develop through the draft, so if those guys stay, obviously, they’ve been raised here and they can help push the culture forward. With Dugger, I would say last year going into the season, there were some questions about can he communicate and all those things. He squashed all of that last year. He did a fantastic job in his new role without having Devin (McCourty) there.”

Bill Belichick held onto Dugger and Onwenu at the trade deadline; both were rumored candidates to be moved as the team found itself in the rare position as a potential midseason seller. Dugger played 97% of the Pats’ defensive snaps last season, and with Mayo and DeMarcus Covington sticking around, the former second-round pick offers continuity for a team that just released Adrian Phillips.

Dugger, who will turn 27 next month, played ahead of the veteran in 2023. PFF only ranked Dugger 68th among safeties last season but viewed his 2022 more favorably; the Lenoir-Rhyne alum returned two interceptions for touchdowns that year. Although Dugger has fared better closer to the line of scrimmage, he has nine INTs over the past three seasons.

The Patriots are among the league leaders in cap space, holding $78.1MM as of Thursday afternoon. That sits third in the NFL, though teams have a number of days to organize their budgets ahead of the 2024 league year. Keeping Dugger — a 2020 second-round pick — would also be a notable transaction due to the team’s run of not re-signing recent high draft choices. The team has not extended a homegrown first-, second- or third-round pick since re-signing 2013 third-rounder Duron Harmon in 2017.

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