Patriots Rumors

Patriots, RB Rhamondre Stevenson Agree To Extension

As expected, the Patriots and Rhamondre Stevenson have worked out a deal. The fourth-year running back has agreed to a four-year, $36MM extension, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

The pact includes $17MM fully guaranteed, Schefter notes. With Stevenson having been set to play out the final year of his rookie contract in 2024, this agreement will keep him in place through 2028. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network adds the 26-year-old will collect an $8MM signing bonus.

Stevenson’s deal also includes $12MM in incentives, per Rapoport. Reaching 1,400 yards and earning Pro Bowl or All-Pro acclaim will add to the former fourth-rounder’s earnings on his New England extension, which can max out at $48MM. Stevenson has operated as the team’s lead back for the past two seasons, and he will now face increased expectations moving forward with a $9MM AAV. That figure ranks seventh in the league amongst running backs.

Last week, Stevenson publicly stated he felt an agreement on a long-term deal was close. That was followed in short order by a report that progress was being made, so today’s news comes as little surprise. The Patriots regime which drafted him – one which did not make a habit of investing in running backs – is no longer in place. New head coach Jerod Mayo spoke highly of a potential deal, though, and his tenure at the helm will no doubt feature plenty of usage for Stevenson in the backfield.

The Oklahoma product has a career yards per carry average of 4.5, although that figure checked in at 4.0 during his injury-shortened 2023 campaign. Ezekiel Elliott handled RB1 duties to close out the season in Stevenson’s absence, but he has since re-joined the Cowboys. To fill the veteran vacancy at the position, New England signed Antonio Gibson in free agency. The latter has shown an ability as a pass-catcher in particular, but early down responsibilities will no doubt lie with Stevenson for years to come.

While the 2024 offseason has seen a changing of the guard along the sidelines and in the front office for the Patriots, new general manager Eliot Wolf has made a number of moves aimed at keeping in-house players on the books. Deals for the likes of safety Kyle Duggerright tackle Michael Onwenu and tight end Hunter Henry prevented what would have been notable free agent departures. Instead of testing the market in 2025, Stevenson will likewise be tied to New England for the foreseeable future.

The Patriots’ offense will feature a number of new faces in 2024, headlined by first-round rookie Drake Maye presumably taking on starting quarterback duties at some point. The team’s array of pass-catchers features veteran signing K.J. Osborn and a pair of rookies (second-rounder Ja’Lynn Polk, fifth-rounder Javon Baker), but the ground game will no doubt remain a key element of the team’s attack. That will leave Stevenson as a focal point for the Patriots’ offense in 2024 and beyond as he seeks to justify this lucrative investment.

Latest On Patriots G Cole Strange’s Knee Injury

We heard last month that Cole Strange was expected to miss the start of the 2024 campaign as he recovered from a knee injury. We’ve now got more details on the injury that ended the former first-round pick’s 2023 campaign. ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes that Strange suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee.

[RELATED: Patriots G Cole Strange Could Miss Start Of 2024 Season]

This helps provide some context to head coach Jerod Mayo‘s “month-to-month” comment from May. As Reiss notes, Mayo suffered the same injury towards the end of his playing career, so the coach’s estimated timeline is based on first-hand experience.

The Patriots raised some eyebrows when they selected the former UT-Chattanooga standout in the first round of the 2022 draft. While Strange managed to start all 17 of his appearances as a rookie, his Pro Football Focus grade still only ranked 61st among qualifying guards. He did take a slight step forward in 2023; in his 10 games, Strange was slotted in as the 26-best offensive guard in the NFL.

The Patriots were surely counting on Strange to take another step forward during his third year in the league, but his season debut will surely be delayed. Reiss notes that 2023 fourth-round pick Sidy Sow got the majority of the reps at left guard during spring practices. Sow started 13 games on the opposite side of the line as a rookie. Fortunately, the second-year player has plenty of experience playing on the left side of the line thanks to his time in college, and the lineman told Reiss that he’s appreciated his growing chemistry with expected starting LT Chukwuma Okorafor.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/18/24

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Miami Dolphins

  • Waived: WR Mathew Sexton

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Signed: G Liam Fornadel

New York Jets

  • Signed: OL Kohl Levao

Jones-Smith brings six games of experience to Atlanta, with the offensive lineman seeing time with the Raiders (2020) and Ravens (2021). The majority of his career snaps have come on special teams. He’ll provide the Falcons with some OT depth behind Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary.

The Lions officially added former UFL kicker Jake Bates to their squad, so the team moved on from an undrafted kicker to make room. Turner spent four years at Louisville before joining Michigan for the 2023 campaign. He had a standout season for the Wolverines, converting 18 of his 21 field goal attempts and 65 of his 66 XP tries.

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/17/24

Here are Monday’s minor moves:

Minnesota Vikings

  • Waived: WR Devron Harper

New England Patriots

  • Waived: G Ryan Johnson

Both Harper and Johnson were among this year’s collection of UDFAs. The Vikings guaranteed Harper $15K, according to Cardinals Wire’s Howard Balzer. Johnson, who played collegiately at Youngstown State, was not part of the Patriots’ initial UDFA haul. He signed with the team last month. Harper was one of two Mercer wideouts the Vikings signed after the draft. The other — Ty James — remains on Minnesota’s 90-man offseason roster.

Patriots Rumors: Godchaux, QBs, Gonzalez

The Patriots have a number of players on multi-year contracts who are heading into contract-years in 2024. One such player is veteran defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, who came to New England back in 2021. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Godchaux didn’t practice at all during last week’s mandatory minicamp amid desires for a new contract.

Godchaux’s initial deal in New England was a two-year, $15MM contract that he earned in free agency following the expiration of his rookie deal with the Dolphins. The following offseason, the Patriots helped Godchaux avoid a contract year, extending him on another two-year deal, this one worth $20.8MM.

Entering the final year of his current deal, Godchaux is set to earn a base salary of $7.15MM. He’ll have the opportunity to earn an additional $150K via workout bonus and an extra $58,823 in per game active roster bonuses (for a potential season total of $1MM). Additionally, Godchaux is set to represent an $11.8MM cap hit in 2024, the third-largest figure on the team’s roster.

If the Patriots are interested in retaining Godchaux past his age-30 season, it could behoove them to work with the veteran to reach a new deal in order to lessen his cap impact this season. That’s a big “if,” though. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Godchaux had the worst season of his career in 2023, grading out as the 102nd-best player at his position out of 130 graded interior defenders. He’s also now six years removed from his best season, in which he was the 39th-best interior defender.

New head coach Jerod Mayo told reporters that Godchaux is only one of a “bunch of guys” who want to “redo contracts.” Other players who are entering contract years who may be a part of that group include Matt Judon, Deatrich Wise, Jonathan Jones, Jabrill Peppers, Jahlani Tavai, Rhamondre Stevenson, Daniel Ekuale, and Raekwon McMillan.

Here are a couple of other rumors coming out of New England:

  • In one of our recent breakdowns of the Patriots’ quarterback situation, we mentioned that the intention of the team was to narrow the field of competition down to three guys by the end of spring. Jeff Howe of The Athletic partially echoed that sentiment, stating that, “ideally, the Patriots hope to enter the meat of training camp with three quarterbacks.” With No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye and veteran Jacoby Brissett likely cemented on the roster in either the QB1 or QB2 roles, that gives Bailey Zappe and rookie sixth-round pick Joe Milton quite a bit more time to earn the QB3 job. In an emergency situation, Zappe has experience starting from a backup role, but Milton has the potential to serve as a more versatile scout team quarterback at practices with more years on his current contract. Regardless, the deadline to wrap up their battle for the third-string role has been potentially extended to training camp.
  • The Patriots’ first-round selection from last year, Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez, saw his rookie season come to a terribly early end as he suffered a torn labrum that would sideline him after only four games. After undergoing shoulder surgery last season, Gonzalez was finally back on the field at the team’s minicamp. He claims to be “feeling good” coming off of a long recovery period, according to Reiss.

CB Stephon Gilmore Open To Patriots Reunion

A number of high-profiles defensive backs are still on the open market with minicamps now in the books. Several of those players are safeties, but the group of available cornerbacks includes Stephon Gilmore.

The 2019 Defensive Player of the Year was connected to a deal with the Panthers earlier this offseason, but no agreement on that front is considered imminent. Plenty of other suitors could emerge over the summer, either in the break between offseason programs and the start of training camps or even later following an injury. Gilmore intends to remain patient as a free agent at this point, and one outcome he would consider is a return to New England.

Following a five-year run in Buffalo to begin his career, Gilmore signed a five-year, $65MM deal with the Patriots. He spent four years with the team prior to being dealt to the Panthers. During that span, he earned three Pro Bowl invitations along with a pair of first-team All-Pro nominations and his DPoY nod. It remains to be seen if New England will pursue a reunion, but Gilmore publicly stated an openness to re-joining the team.

“You never know. I’ll weigh any options,” the 33-year-old said during an appearance at Tom Brady‘s Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony (via MassLive’s Nick O’Malley). “This is a place that I played great ball, so just letting it play out how it’s gonna be.”

Gilmore played an injury-shortened season with the Panthers in 2021, but he has remained healthy since then. Between his campaigns with the Colts (2022) and Cowboys (2023), the South Carolina alum has totaled four interceptions and 21 pass breakups while logging over 1,000 snaps both years. He will provide starting-caliber play to any new (or familiar) team once he signs.

The Patriots’ cornerback room contains the likes of Christian Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones, Marco Wilson, Marcus Jones and Isaiah Bolden as things stand. The team currently leads the league in cap space with over $45MM available to spend. Gilmore’s price tag will of course depend on the interest shown by other teams, and he noted no serious contract talks with New England have taken place to date. If that were to change this summer, he could represent a notable late-offseason addition for one of his former squads.

NFL Contract Details: Rookies, Andrews, Shepard

Normally, the details of rookie contract signings don’t draw much note from the media. Most facets of the rookie contract are not up for negotiation, so by the book numbers don’t tend to interest the NFL world. Lately, though, NFL teams have gotten creative with how they deal with rookie deals, usually rewarding first- and second-round picks with guaranteed money.

Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 noted three second-round picks whose deals were reported recently. New Commanders cornerback Mike Sainristil out of Michigan’s rookie deal will see the base salaries of his 2024 and 2025 seasons fully guaranteed and $897K of $1.5MM guaranteed from his 2026 salary. Dolphins rookie offensive tackle Patrick Paul from Houston will see similar guarantees. All of his base salary for 2024 and 2025 will be guaranteed along with $413K of his 2026 salary worth $1.42MM. Lastly, Cowboys rookie pass rusher out of Western Michigan, Marshawn Kneeland, will see his first two years fully guaranteed, as well. Kneeland will also see $322K of his 2026 base salary (worth a total of $1.42MM) guaranteed.

Here are some other details from recent contracts around the NFL:

  • We recently saw the Patriots grant center David Andrews a raise in a new extension. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe gives us further details on the new contract. He notes that Andrews was guaranteed $1.75MM of his $5MM for 2024. He also reports that the deal will reduce Andrews’ cap impact next year from $8.43MM to $6.68MM.
  • The Buccaneers recently signed former Giants receiver Sterling Shepard to a one-year, $1.38MM deal. Wilson of KPRC2 tells us that Shepard will be able to earn a $50K roster bonus if he’s on the active roster by Week 1 of the season. He’ll also have the opportunity to earn an additional $6,911 per game in active roster bonuses for a potential season total of $117,500.

Patriots, Rhamondre Stevenson Progressing On Extension

The Bill Belichick-run Patriots operation did not place considerable value on the running back position. A few New England regulars received their paydays elsewhere during the legendary coach/GM’s stay. As the team transitions to an Eliot Wolf-led front office, it appears they are at least giving strong consideration to extending their starting RB.

Rhamondre Stevenson confirmed this by indicating he viewed an extension as close, and while the deal is not done, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe notes the sides are making progress (subscription required). Although an extension could be on the horizon, the 2021 fourth-round pick remains in a contract year.

New England did prioritize the pass-catching RB position during Tom Brady‘s tenure, forging long-running partnerships with Kevin Faulk and James White. Though, the team did not retain Danny Woodhead or Shane Vereen in between. Stevan Ridley also left New England after his rookie contract. Ditto BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Damien Harris, though Stevenson had effectively usurped the latter by the time his rookie deal expired. LeGarrette Blount left for Pittsburgh but returned on a low-cost deal. Corey Dillon provided an exception, being extended (five years, $17.5MM) early in Belichick’s tenure.

The NFL’s RB landscape has changed considerably since that Dillon deal (2005). Christian McCaffrey‘s recent extension (two years, $38MM) topped his own position-record number, which had stood since April 2020. Most of the teams who rostered a high-priced RB as of 2023 have moved on from that player or agreed to a pay cut. The past several months have provided some hope for impact backs, with the likes of Jonathan Taylor and Saquon Barkley scoring more than $26MM guaranteed in total. Stevenson, however, has not shown himself to be on that tier. That will make extension numbers — should they indeed emerge — interesting to view.

Excluding All-Pro-level backs and the host of veterans who signed one-year deals this offseason, the contracts given to D’Andre Swift and Tony Pollard may prove relevant to the Patriots-Stevenson negotiations. The Bears gave Swift a three-year, $24MM deal that includes $14MM guaranteed in full. The Titans’ Pollard deal is less player-friendly, covering three years and $21.75MM and guaranteeing the five-year Cowboy $10.49MM at signing.

Despite coming into the NFL a year later, Stevenson (26) is a year older than Swift. He showed considerable promise in a poor Patriots offense in 2022 by totaling 1,461 scrimmage yards. He ranked ninth in Next Gen Stats’ rushing yards over expected metric that season. Being asked to play alongside Ezekiel Elliott last year, Stevenson took a step back (857 scrimmage yards) and missed the final five games of the season with a high ankle sprain. Considering Stevenson’s resume, David MontgomeryMiles Sanders territory (in the $6MM AAV range) may apply as the Patriots consider a second-contract compromise.

You know, we’ll see,” Jerod Mayo said of an extension, via the Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi. “I will say this about Rhamondre: I think he’s one of the better backs in the league, no doubt about it. I think over the last few years, it’s been kind of tough on him, as far as getting started. So, I’m excited to see what he does this season. And look, he’s earned everything that he gets. He is our starting running back, and hopefully, we do get something done.”

The Pats added pass-catching back Antonio Gibson on a three-year, $11.25MM deal that includes $5.3MM guaranteed up front. Stevenson’s second contract will come in above that place, but it is worth wondering how much higher this new Pats regime will go for the fourth-year back. Wolf has made a point to reward in-house players this offseason, re-signing the likes of Michael Onwenu, Kyle Dugger, Josh Uche and Kendrick Bourne. It looks like Stevenson will have the chance to stay in Foxborough beyond 2024, though some work remains.

Patriots Sign Round 2 WR Ja’Lynn Polk, Complete Rookie Deals

The Patriots have signed receiver Ja’Lynn Polk to his rookie deal, per a team announcement. As a result, each member of the team’s draft class has been signed ahead of the break leading up to training camp. Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 adds this pact includes a $3.87MM signing bonus.

To no surprise, New England used the No. 3 pick to add a potential franchise quarterback. Drake Maye is in line to handle starting duties at some point relatively soon, but the caliber of the pass-catching options around him has drawn questions. Free agency saw the Patriots pursue Calvin Ridley, but the team’s most notable addition was K.J. Osborn.

The former Viking will be joined by veterans JuJu Smith-Schuster and Kendrick Bourne in New England’s receiver corps. That unit also features recent draftees Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas, and Polk will look to carve out an early role. The latter began his college career at Texas Tech before transferring to Washington in 2021. He had a limited impact during his first Huskies season, but his production jumped considerably after that.

In 2022, Polk posted a 41-694-6 statline, establishing himself as an impactful member of the team’s deep receiver room. That continued this past season while he played alongside Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan as the Huskies went to the national title game. Polk recorded 1,159 yards and nine touchdowns on 69 catches, proving himself to be a sure-handed option in the intermediate game in particular. The 6-1, 203-pounder came off the board early on Day 2, joining Odunze (first round, Bears) and McMillan (third round, Buccaneers) as Washington products who will face high expectations upon entry into the NFL.

New England struggled in a number of offensive categories last year, ranking 28th in passing yards. The addition of Polk and fellow rookie Javon Baker could give the team new options in an offense which has seen a number of moves made on the field and the sidelines this offseason as all parties aim to take a needed step forward in 2024.

Here is a full breakdown of the Patriots’ draft class:

Minor NFL Transactions: 6/11/24

Today’s minor transactions:

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

New England Patriots

  • Claimed off waivers (from Lions): LB Steele Chambers
  • Waived: LB Jay Person

Harrison Hand brings 27 games of experience to Atlanta. The former fifth-round pick spent the first two seasons of his career with the Vikings before spending the 2023 campaign in Chicago, where he collected 12 tackles and one forced fumble in four games (one start). Meanwhile, fellow cornerback Craig James has seen time in 23 games since entering the NFL in 2018. After going without a regular-season appearance in 2021 and 2022, James got into a pair of games with the Jets last season.