The contract details of newly signed cornerback Tarell Brown have been released.
Patriots CB Tarell Brown one-year deal: $1.5M, $400K signing bonus, base salary $1M, $500K playtime incentive, $100K 1st-game roster bonus— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) July 29, 2015
Brown has $400,000 in the pocket, and an additional $100,000 if he makes the opening week roster. This is a large chunk of change for someone engaged in the most highlighted camp battle on the roster. For comparison, Bradley Fletcher received a $300,000 signing bonus and Robert McClain received a $150,000 signing bonus.
So does this large signing bonus guarantee Brown a spot on the squad?
Using information over the past two seasons from Miguel over at PatsCap.com, we're able to see whether or not the Patriots release non-rookie players with such a large signing bonus.
Tight end Daniel Fells received a $1 million signing bonus for a three-year contract in 2012, but was cut just prior to the 2013 season. His $333,333 pro rata cap hit counted in both 2013 and 2014. He played one season under the contract.
Safety Adrian Wilson received a $1 million signing bonus for a three-year contract in 2013, but was cut prior to the 2014 season, so the remaining $666,667 cap hit was escalated and applied to 2014. He spent a season on the injured reserves prior to his release.
Safety Steve Gregory received a $2.5 million signing bonus for a three-year contract in 2012 and played for two seasons prior to his release.
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly restructured his contract prior to the 2014 season to create cap space for the Patriots and received a $100,000 signing bonus. Kelly forced his way off the roster because he was unhappy with his projected playing time. He did not play a season under his restructured deal.
The Patriots declined to pick up the options of Vince Wilfork, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Browner prior to the start of the 2015 free agency period. While Browner had no signing bonus and didn't affect future cap hits, Revis left $5 million in dead money of his $10 million signing bonus, and Wilfork left $866,667 in dead money from his $1.3 million signing bonus, due to the pro rata distribution of their signing bonuses. All three players spent one year in New England under their new contracts.
Cornerback Kyle Arrington received a $6.5 million signing bonus for a four-year contract signed in 2013. Arrington was released prior to the 2015 season after spending two years under the contract.
Can't recall during BB era a player receiving a bonus (signing or roster) 300k or more and then being cut same year https://t.co/0GnRF71mXW— CapSpace=$8,854,988 (@patscap) July 29, 2015
It seems that when the Patriots grant such a large signing bonus, the player is nearly always a lock to make the team. The only veteran players I can think of that received a large signing bonus that didn't make the team are defensive tackle Jonathan Fanene, who the Patriots sued for not disclosing medical issues, and Kelly, who forced his way off the team.
Basically, it seems like Brown, Fletcher, and even McClain have fairly rock solid claims to a roster spot. McClain could very well be bumped if rookie Darryl Roberts continues to shine, but the fact that these three veterans received a large chunk of change will go a long way when projecting the final roster.