New England Patriots Links 3/31/10 - Sammy Morris: Running Back-By-Committee Approach Helps Staying Power

Sammy Morris still has plenty of power left in his 33 year-old legs, with a little help from the system.

Christopher Price reports Sammy Morris has been pleased with his staying power in New England.

"I guess each year is a different entity in itself, so you don’t really know what to expect," Morris said Tuesday at Gillette Stadium. "When I signed here I figured physically I could play the four years. At the same time, you never know what each offseason is going to bring, the different bumps and bruises from the year before. I physically felt like I could sign for four and definitely play for that. Fortunately it’s worked out and I just want to keep plugging away until my body says I can’t go anymore."

Albert Breer notes how the Patriots hand out bonus money shows some shift in contract negotiations with players.

Take the two biggest contracts handed out by this team in the first decade of this millenium -- Given to Tom Brady and Richard Seymour. Brady's six-year, $60 million deal, signed in 2005, included a $14.5 million signing bonus and a $12 million option bonus in Year 2. Seymour's four-year, $30 million deal had options bonus $6.66 million and $12 million due before and after the 2006 season, respectively.

Notice the trend? In the past (presumably for cash-flow reasons), the Patriots tried not to hand out lump-sum bonus money, preferring to spread that cash out.

In 2010, though, that isn't exactly what players are looking for. For more than a year, agents have put an emphasis on what players are receiving "before the lockout." And now, since a potential lockout is less than a year away, players aren't going to be as receptive to allowing their bonus money to be spread out.

So New England has adjusted and, outside of workout bonuses and the like, almost all the bonus money is being paid in Year 1. Vince Wilfork got an $18 million signing bonus. Tully Banta-Cain and Leigh Bodden got respective $6 million signing bonuses. Those deals (the only 2010 deals negotiated by the Patriots that extend into 2012) don't have roster or option bonuses down the line at all, with the rest of the money tied into base salaries, the aforementioned workout bonuses and incentives.

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