Patriots, S Kyle Dugger Agree To Deal

APRIL 11: Dugger’s new pact is guaranteed in full for its first two years; he will collect $29.75MM over that span, as detailed by the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin (the additional $2.75MM guaranteed, set to paid out in Year 3, is conditional). The contract includes an $18MM signing bonus along with per-game roster bonuses worth up to $5MM. Dugger’s cap hit will sit at $7.5MM in 2024 before rising to $11MM the following season, then $12.5MM and $13.5MM.

APRIL 7: Patriots safety Kyle Dugger is no longer on the transition tag. Per Mike Garafolo and Eric Edholm of NFL Media, player and team are in agreement on a four-year contract, which NFL Media colleague Ian Rapoport says has a base value of $58MM (including $32.5MM in guaranteed money). The maximum value, according to Rapoport, is $66MM.

This offseason, New England made it a point to retain its homegrown talent, re-signing players like Michael Onwenu, Anfernee Jennings, and Josh Uche. At one time, Dugger seemed the likeliest of that group to remain in Foxborough on a long-term basis, with the Patriots submitting a $13MM/year offer to the Lenoir-Rhyne product shortly before the deadline to apply the franchise or transition tag. The two sides were unable to come to terms prior to that deadline, which compelled the Pats to deploy the transition tag, but it ultimately did not take too long for an agreement to be consummated.

Per the rules of the transition tag, if Dugger had signed an offer sheet with another team and New England declined to match the offer sheet, the Patriots would have received no draft pick compensation. Fortunately for them, no outside club extended an offer, as Dan Duggan of The Athletic confirms. As such, all the Pats needed to do was bump the average annual value of Dugger’s new contract ($14.5MM) slightly above the $13.8MM transition tag value to get a deal done.

In terms of both AAV and total guarantees, Dugger now ranks fifth in the league’s safety hierarchy (excluding Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who remains on the franchise tag as of the time of this writing). That underscores his importance to New England’s defense, a unit that finished in the top-10 in total yardage and defensive DVOA in 2023.

Now 28, Dugger has been a full-time starter for most of his four-year career, racking up nine interceptions (including two pick-sixes) and 20 passes defensed along the way. He has not yet earned any Pro Bowl acclaim, and his Pro Football Focus evaluation in 2023 was less than ideal; PFF assigned him an abysmal 50.0 coverage grade and considered him the 68th-best safety out of 95 qualified players.

While it is true that Dugger is more suited to play near the line of scrimmage — he eclipsed 100 tackles for the first time in his career last season — he did yield a fairly modest 82.7 QB rating on passes thrown in his direction in 2023, and his PFF evaluation was much more favorable in 2022, when the advanced metrics placed him as the 11th-best safety among 88 qualifiers.

Regardless of what PFF might say, the Patriots clearly consider Dugger to be a foundational player and value his versatility (in addition to lining up in the box and at free safety, he has also seen action as a slot and boundary corner, on special teams, and even on the D-line). His new contract will keep him under club control into the Pats’ next competitive window.

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