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Crafting a 2015 free agent deal between Devin McCourty and Super Bowl Champs New England Patriots

Miguel Benzan
Miguel Benzan on Twitter
7 years ago at 11:31 am ET
Posted Under: Free Agency

It was reported/rumored during the first week in June, 2014 that the Patriots and Devin McCourty had started talks about extending his contract which will expire after the 2014 season. It seemed appropriate in June to now look at his comparables and propose a contract that I consider fair to both him and the Patriots. Please note that I consider McCourty to be an elite safety.

Updated on February 16 to add free agency rankings
Updated on March 1 to have guarantee numbers in some proposed deals match cash received if tagged for two straight years. Also added the free agency ranking of NFL.Com and ProFootball Focus

Background information: Devin was the 1st round pick of the Patriots in 2010. Devin was drafted as a cornerback and was permanently switched to safety during the 2012 season. Top cornerbacks are paid higher than top safeties. For example, the franchise tag figure for cornerbacks this year was $10.081 million while the franchise tag for safeties was $7.253 million. Earl Thomas who is the highest paid safety averages 10 million cap hit in his deal. There are four cornerbacks with a higher average. Devin had earned enough escalators in his rookie contract to increase his 2014 salary by $3,050,000 to $3,920,000. His 2014 cap number is $5,115,000. Devin McCourty who will be 28 when the 2015 season starts was selected to the Associated Press’s All-Pro 2nd team in 2013. Before the 2014 season started there were four rankings of the NFL’s Top 100 players. They were done by Pro Football Focus, CBS Sportsline’s Pete Prisco, CBS Sportsline’s Pat Kirwan, and NFL players as tabulated by NFL Network.

Player Pro Football Focus Pete Prisco Pat Kirwan NFL Players
Earl Thomas 20 10 12 17
Eric Berry 37 54 33 50
Kam Chancellor 28 73 72 65
Troy Polamalu 95 99 100 61
Eric Weddle 96 34 92
T.J. Ward 100 76
Devin McCourty 22 62
Jarius Byrd 71 37
Antrell Rolle 72

AzCentral.Com’s Bob McManaman rates McCourty the 10th best available free agent. USA Today also rates McCourty the 10th best available free agent. ESPN has McCourty as the 5th
best available free agent. The New York Post also considers Devin the 5th best free agent. AOL rates McCourty as the 9th best available free agent. NFL.Com rates McCourty as the 6th best available agent. Pro Football Focus wrote this about McCourty – “After switching from corner early in his career McCourty has really hit his stride as a center fielder that you really shouldn’t try testing. A valuable skill in any era”

Rater Ranking
AzCentral.Com 10
USAToday 10
ESPN 5
New York Post 5
AOL 9
NFL 6
ProFootballFocus 4

Now let’s look at some financial comparables. Jarius Byrd is 10 months older than McCourty and played under the franchise tag ($6.916 million) in 2013. Byrd’s contract contains $26.3 million in guarantees, a record for a veteran safety deal. His 2014 salary is fully guaranteed. His 2015 $6 million roster bonus became fully guaranteed in late March so it is treated like a signing bonus. 6 million of his 2016 salary is now guaranteed for injury. Will become fully guaranteed the 3rd day of the 2016 League Year.

Jarius Byrd – 9M APY
Year Salary Prorated Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings
2014 $1,300,000 $2,200,000 $0 $100,000 $3,500,000 $18,300,000 ($14,800,000)
2015 $2,000,000 $3,400,000 $0 $100,000 $5,500,000 $14,800,000 ($9,300,000)
2016 $7,400,000 $3,400,000 $0 $100,000 $10,900,000 $11,400,000 ($500,000)
2017 $7,900,000 $3,400,000 $300,000 $100,000 $11,700,000 $8,000,000 $3,700,000
2018 $8,400,000 $3,400,000 $300,000 $100,000 $12,200,000 $4,600,000 $7,600,000
2019 $8,600,000 $1,200,000 $300,000 $100,000 $10,200,000 $1,200,000 $9,000,000

Earl Thomas was also drafted in the first round in 2010. Thomas was selected in 2011 to the Associated Press Second-team All-Pro In 2012 and in 2013 Earl Thomas was selected to the Associated Press’ All-Pro first team, Sporting News’ All Pro team, and the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Pro team. Earl Thomas is a year and 9 months younger than McCourty. His 2014 and 2015 salaries are fully guaranteed. 6 million of his 2016 salary is guaranteed. Do not know if the 2016 guarantee is currently full or guaranteed for injury now and then become fully guaranteed later.

Earl Thomas
Year Salary 2014 Prorated Bonus 2010 Signing Bonus Proration 2011 Salary Advance Proration Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings
2014 $4,750,000 $1,900,000 $100,000 $648,212 $7,373,212 $14,225,000 ($6,851,788)
2015 $5,500,000 $1,900,000 $0 $0 $7,400,000 $12,100,000 ($4,700,000)
2016 $8,000,000 $1,900,000 $0 $0 $9,900,000 $5,700,000 $4,200,000
2017 $8,500,000 $1,900,000 $0 $0 $10,400,000 $3,800,000 $6,600,000
2018 $8,500,000 $1,900,000 $0 $0 $10,400,000 $1,900,000 $8,500,000

Eric Weddle, a member of the 2013 Associated Press’ All Pro 2nd team, signed his current 5 year $40 million deal in 2011. Kam Chancellor, yet another member of the AP All Pro 2nd team, signed a four-year, $28 million extension in April, 2013. Antrell Rolle, one more member of the AP All-Pro 2nd team, signed a five year, $37 million deal with the Giants in 2010 when he was 27. Dashon Goldson signed his 5-year, $41.5 million deal in March, 2013. William Moore signed his 5-year, $30 million deal in March, 2013. Michael Griffin signed his 5-year, $35 million deal in June of 2012. This offseason six safeties got deals that averaged over 5 million a year. Mike Mitchell who will turn 27 in June received a 5-year $25 million deal. Reshad Jones who is 26 years old got a 5yr $29.3m deal from the Dolphins. Antoine Bethea got a 4yr, 22m deal from the 49ers. Donte Whitner signed a four year, $28 million contract with the Browns on March 11, 2014.
T.J. Ward got a four-year, $22.5 million contract from the Broncos. T.J. received a $5 million signing bonus. His 2014 salary is fully guaranteed. His 2015 salary and roster bonus are currently guaranteed for injury only. Will become fully guaranteed the 5th day of the 2015 League Year.

T.J. Ward
Year Salary 2014 Signing Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings
2014 $2,000,000 $1,250,000 $0 $3,250,000 $13,500,000 ($10,250,000)
2015 $4,000,000 $1,250,000 $2,000,000 $6,250,000 $9,750,000 ($3,000,000)
2016 $4,500,000 $1,250,000 $0 $5,750,000 $2,500,000 $3,250,000
2017 $4,500,000 $1,250,000 $0 $5,750,000 $1,250,000 $4,500,000

Eric Weddle received a $13 million signing bonus. His 2011 and 2012 salaries were fully guaranteed.

Eric Weddle
Year Salary 2011 Signing Bonus Proration Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings
2011 $1,000,000 $2,600,000 $3,600,000 $19,000,000 ($15,400,000)
2012 $5,000,000 $2,600,000 $7,600,000 $15,400,000 ($7,800,000)
2013 $6,000,000 $2,600,000 $8,600,000 $7,800,000 $200,000
2014 $7,500,000 $2,600,000 $10,100,000 $5,200,000 $5,900,000
2015 $7,500,000 $2,600,000 $10,100,000 $2,600,000 $7,500,000

On October 12th, 2014 CBS Sportline’s Jason LaCanfora reported that the percentage that will be used to determine the franchise tag number for safeties will be 6.713%. The 2015 cap is $143.28 million. The tag number for a safety was $9.61 million. It seems reasonable to venture that a McCourty deal in the $8 to $9 million per year average range would be fair for both sides, would recognize that McCourty sacrificed dollars in his move from the cornerback position to the safety position and would also recognize that McCourty has assumed all of the injury risk. The 2015 and 2016 salaries would be fully guaranteed. 3 million of his 2017 salary would be guaranteed for injury when the deal is reached in 2015 but would become fully guaranteed if McCourty is on the 53-man roster at the end of the 2016 season. McCourty would receive a $10 million signing bonus. This deal averages 8M in value over the 5-year period and would tie Eric Weddle for the 5th best safety deal.

Devin McCourty – $8M APY
Year Salary Signing Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings Cash Received Total Cash
2015 $1.5 $2 $.5 $4 $15 ($11) $12 $12
2016 $3.5 $2 $.5 $6 $11.5 ($5.5) $4 $16
2017 $5.5 $2 $.5 $8 $9 ($1) $6 $22
2018 $7.5 $2 $.5 $10 $4 $6 $8 $30
2019 $9.5 $2 $.5 $12 $2 $10 $10 $40

This next deal averages $8.25 million over a 5-year period and would make Devin McCourty the 4th highest paid safety. The 2015 and 2016 salaries would be fully guaranteed. 2 million of his 2017 salary would be guaranteed for injury when the deal is reached in 2015 but would become fully guaranteed if McCourty is on the 53-man roster at the end of the 2016 season. McCourty would receive a $12.5 million signing bonus.

Devin McCourty – $8.25M APY (Preferred Deal)
Number in Millions
Year Salary Signing Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings Cash Received Total Cash
2015 $3 $2.5 $.5 $6 $19.5 ($13.5) $16 $16
2016 $5 $2.5 $.5 $7.5 $14 ($6.5) $5 $21
2017 $5.75 $2.5 $.5 $8.75 $9.5 ($07.5) $6.25 $27.25
2018 $6.25 $2.5 $.5 $9.25 $5 $4.25 $6.75 $34
2019 $6.75 $2.5 $.5 $9.75 $2.5 $7.25 $7.25 $41.25

This next deal averages $8.5 million over a 5-year period and would make McCourty the 3rd highest paid safety. The 2015 and 2016 salaries would be fully guaranteed. 3 million of his 2017 salary would be guaranteed for injury when the deal is reached in 2015 but would become fully guaranteed if McCourty is on the 53-man roster at the end of the 2016 season. McCourty would receive a $11 million signing bonus.

Devin McCourty – $8.5M APY
Year Salary Signing Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings Cash Received Total Cash
2015 $1.3 $2.2 $.5 $4 $16.1 ($12,100,000) $12,800,000 $12.8
2016 $3.8 $2.2 $.5 $6.5 $12.6 ($6,100,000) $4,300,000 $17.1
2017 $5.9 $2.2 $.5 $8.6 $9.6 ($1,000,000) $6,400,000 $23.5
2018 $8.1 $2.2 $.5 $10.8 $4.4 $6,400,000 $8,600,000 $32.1
2019 $9.9 $2.2 $.5 $12.6 $2.2 $10,400,000 $10,400,000 $42.5

This next deal averages $9 million over a 5-year period and would tie for Jarius Byrd for the 2nd highest paid safety. The 2015 and 2016 salaries would be fully guaranteed. 3 million of his 2017 salary would be guaranteed for injury when the deal is reached in 2015 but would become fully guaranteed if McCourty is on the 53-man roster at the end of the 2016 season. McCourty would receive a $12.5 million signing bonus.

Devin McCourty – $9M APY
Year Salary Signing Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings Cash Received Total Cash
2015 $1.5 $2.5 $.5 $4.5 $18 ($13.5) $14.5 $14.5
2016 $4 $2.5 $.5 $7 $14 ($7) $4.5 $19
2017 $6.5 $2.5 $.5 $9.5 $10.5 ($1) $7 $26
2018 $8 $2.5 $.5 $11 $5 $6 $8.5 $34.5
2019 $10.5 $2.5 $.5 $13 $2.5 $10.5 $10.5 $45

http://overthecap.com/freeagents.php?Position=S&Year=2015 lists the safeties who like McCourty will become a free agent after this season. As of now, Devin McCourty should be considered the best available free agent safety. The only projected free agent safety that I consider in McCourty’s class is Antrell Rolle, who is close to 4 1/2 years older than McCourty.

http://overthecap.com/top-player-salaries.php?Position=S
lists the APYs for safeties.

A deal with a 4M APY would make McCourty the 24th highest paid safety.
5M APY would tie McCourty for 20th
6M APY would tie McCourty for 14th
7M APY would tie McCourty for 9th
7.5M APY would make McCourty the 6th highest paid safety
8M APY would tie McCourty for 5th
8.25M APY would tie McCourty for 4th
8.5M APY would make McCourty the 3rd highest paid safety
9M APY would tie McCourty for 2nd
9.5M APY would make McCourty the 2nd highest paid safety
10M would tie McCourty for 1st
>10M would make McCourty the highest paid safety


Posted Under: Free Agency
Tags: mccourty

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