According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, the New England Patriots and veteran edge defender Rob Ninkovich have signed a new contract that will add a year to his current deal and convert some of his 2016 base salary to signing bonus:
Source: #Patriots have signed DE Rob Ninkovich to a 1-year extension thru 2017. Now playing on a 2-yr, $4.27m deal— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 11, 2016
#Patriots gave Ninkovich $1.5m signing bonus and lowered base salary from$1.5 to $1m this year. Saved him about $117k in suspension fines— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 11, 2016
For 2017, Ninkovich has a $1m salary (gtd for injury only), $400k in per-game bonuses, $100k workout bonus, $500k incentives. Max value $2m— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) September 11, 2016
This is awesome for a couple of reasons.
First, Ninkovich is an important veteran leader in the Patriots locker room. Even if he has regressed significantly by his age 33 season in 2017, the Patriots would not be on the hook for much (outside of his workout bonus). As Volin stated, his guaranteed salary will be for injury only - and not skill.
Second, it is a great gesture and a show of faith in Ninkovich -- despite his suspension. By lowering his base salary, the Patriots let Ninkovich take home more in 2016 via signing bonus (which is not affected by the suspension). Ninkovich has been a consummate professional in not only his seven-plus years with the club, but also in the way he handled his suspension. There is the common trope that the Patriots are cutthroat with their veterans - and this again works against that - the team rewarded a dedicated member when they really didn't have to.