The New England Patriots have made kicker Stephen Gostkowski one of the wealthiest special teams players in the league. After applying the franchise tag on 31-year-old, both the Patriots and Gostkowski were able to come to terms for a long term extension to keep the franchise leader in points under contract.
Gostkowski's 4-year, $17.2 million deal locks him up through the year 2019. Only one kicker in the league is under contract further into the future: Dallas' Dan Bailey is under contract through 2021. In comparison, Gostkowski will be earning over $1 million more per season than Bailey, who signed his contract prior to the 2014 season.
In fact, Gostkowski's contract averages $4.3 million per season, a slight reduction from the franchise tag cap hit of $4.59 million. The Raider's Sebastian Janikowski is the second highest paid kicker on a per-year basis, earning $3.775 million per year.
In other words, Gostkowski is getting half a million more per season than the next highest paid kicker. This is a fair price for the most accurate kicker in the league over the past two seasons.
It was important for the Patriots to come to terms with Gostkowski because a glut of free agent kickers would hit the market after the 2015 season, including the Ravens' Justin Tucker. It won't be surprising if Tucker receives a deal that's worth more than Gostkowski's on an annual basis next March. By getting ahead of the free agents, the Patriots are able to set the market, instead of reacting to it.
While Gostkowski wasn't as flashy of a franchise player as the Chiefs' Justin Houston, or the Broncos' Demaryius Thomas, or the Cowboys' Dez Bryant, the Patriots and the kicker still came together to sign a record breaking contract.