The New England Patriots spent an uncharacteristically large sum of money on running backs last offseason, signing Mike Gillislee for 2 years/$6.4 million, Rex Burkhead for 1 year/$3.1 million, and extending James White for 3 years/$12 million. This was a radically different approach to how they previously viewed the position, having spent just over $4 million on the position the year prior. This caused some to speculate that Bill Belichick and co. wanted some capable runners to help take the load off of 40-year old quarterback Tom Brady.

Whatever the case, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and running back/special teamer Brandon Bolden are now set to be free agents in March, so I figured it would be a good time to project how their new deals might look. (I already covered Dion Lewis here, if you want to take look. My estimate is a bit on the low side, but I do think that his market value will be driven down because other teams will view him as a ‘system’ player that only thrived because he was in New England.) In addition to the aforementioned running backs, both special teams captain Matthew Slater and wide receiver Danny “Playoffs” Amendola are also set to hit the market next month. Both players have been integral pieces in the team’s success over the past several years, but they are also relatively old by NFL standards; they both turn 33 later this year. As a result, I would not be surprised to see either of them retire. If they do decide to play next year, however, I cannot see them suiting up for any other team besides the Patriots. Now, without further ado, let’s get down to the numbers.

(Note: * indicates a guaranteed amount; money that will be paid to the player regardless of whether or not he makes the team)

Rex Burkhead

Comparable contracts:

Name APY Percent Guaranteed
Chris Thompson  $3,503,400.00 64.3%
Danny Woodhead  $2,900,000.00 36.9%
Charcandrick West  $1,800,000.00 44.4%

 

Projection:

Year Base (P5) Salary Signing Bonus Proration Per-Game Active Roster Bonus NLTBE Incentives Cap Hit Cash Running Cash Dead Cap Cap Savings if Cut
2018 $1,000,000.00 $750,000.00* $250,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $2,000,000.00 $2,750,000.00 $2,750,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $500,000.00
2019 $1,000,000.00 $750,000.00* $250,000.00 $1,000,000.00 $2,000,000.00 $1,250,000.00 $4,000,000.00 $750,000.00 $1,250,000.00

 

The incentives would break down to be $100,000 each for 300, 350, 400, 450, and 500 yards rushing, and 300, 350, 400, 450, and 500 yards receiving.

Rex Burkhead was pretty productive for the Patriots when he was on the field, but the emergence of Dion Lewis and some injuries meant that the former Nebrasaka Cornhusker saw most of his playing time come in the month of November. The fifth-year running back was exclusively a backup during his time in Cincinnati; so that, combined with the six games he missed this year due to injury, may lead teams to believe that he is unable to carry a full-time workload. The above is a fair contract, in my opinion, as it provides a base amount worthy of a solid rotational running back, with easily reachable incentives that brings his pay up to starter-level if he stays healthy and produces. In the end, I expect either Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia to take either Burkhead or Lewis (or both) with them to their new teams. Regardless of whatever happens, though, I expect Burkhead’s new contract to resemble the above.

Matthew Slater

Projection:

Year Base (P5) Salary Signing Bonus Proration Per-Game Active Roster Bonus Cap Hit Cash Running Cash Dead Cap Cap Savings if Cut
2018 $1,015,000.00* $185,000.00* $300,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $1,500,000.00 $1,200,000.00 $300,000.00

 

Patriots’ special teams captain Matthew Slater has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury all year long, so he will likely be debating whether or not he should hang up the cleats throughout the offseason. If he does return, however, it would almost certainly be for another year with the Patriots. I based this contract off of his current deal, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he re-signed for the minimum. He’d make about $400,000 less, but it would save the Patriots about $800,000 in cap space.

Danny Amendola

Projection:

Year Base (P5) Salary Signing Bonus Proration Per-Game Active Roster Bonus Cap Hit Cash Running Cash Dead Cap Cap Savings if Cut
2018 $1,250,000.00* $150,000.00* $300,000.00 $1,700,000.00 $1,700,000.00 $1,700,000.00 $1,400,000.00 $300,000.00

 

Danny Amendola proved to be a valuable asset yet again in 2017, making those who wanted to cut him in favor of Austin Carr back in August look extremely foolish. He too, could decide to hang them up, but just like with Slater, I can’t see him playing for any other team next year. The deal above his essentially the same as the restructured contract he is playing under this year, but I could also see him taking a deal for the minimum. It seems that he isn’t worried about the money at this point in his career, so he and the Patriots will almost certainly be able to come to terms if he decides to return for the 2018 campaign.

Brandon Bolden

Projection:

Year Base (P5) Salary Signing Bonus Proration Per-Game Active Roster Bonus Cap Hit Cash Running Cash Dead Cap Cap Savings if Cut
2018 $790,000.00 $80,000.00* $- $710,000.00 $870,000.00 $870,000.00 $80,000.00 $630,000.00

 

Bolden tested his value on the market last year before eventually returning to the Patriots for the minimum. The core special teamer and backup running back will likely return to the Patriots again next year on a similar deal, but I could see either McDaniels or Patricia taking him along with them because of his versatility.

If I had to make a prediction on the record, I would say that I ultimately expect Lewis, Bolden, Slater, and Amendola to return next year, with Burkhead walking in free agency. Though, to be honest, it would also not surprise me if none of them end up suiting up for New England next season. We’ll see how it plays out.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I project contracts for the rest of the Patriots’ free agents. And be sure to check out parts one and two.

(Author’s Note: I referred to Spotrac.com for contract data.)

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Author Details
My name is William LaFiandra, and I’m a college student attending the College of the Holy Cross. I’m a big fan of the New England Patriots but also follow any NFL related news. I’ve always enjoyed both writing and sports, so I figured I’d give sports journalism a try. I particularly like analyzing and reading about NFL contracts, rosters, strategies, free agency, and the draft.
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My name is William LaFiandra, and I’m a college student attending the College of the Holy Cross. I’m a big fan of the New England Patriots but also follow any NFL related news. I’ve always enjoyed both writing and sports, so I figured I’d give sports journalism a try. I particularly like analyzing and reading about NFL contracts, rosters, strategies, free agency, and the draft.
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