Despite moving on from their top two wide receivers from the 2017 season, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola, the New England Patriots are rather deep at the position: The team currently has 12 wideouts under contract fighting for what is projected to be six or seven spots on the final 53-man roster. Among the non-roster locks – basically everyone but Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and core special teamer Matthew Slater – is Phillip Dorsett.
The former first-round draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts joined New England via trade last September and served as a depth option during the season, catching a total of 14 passes for 244 yards while playing 35% of offensive snaps. Dorsett, given his experience in the system, is considered one of the favorites to earn a spot on the team – and if he indeed does, he now has a chance to earn additional money.
After all, the team slightly changed his contract incentives, according to ESPN's Field Yates:
Source: Patriots WR Phillip Dorsett had his roster bonus due on the 5th day of training camp reduced from $450K to $150K. He now also can earn $100K in per-game roster bonuses and $150K in reception incentives.
The move has a direct impact on Dorsett's salary cap hit by converting a date-based guarantee (his roster bonus due early in training camp) into smaller bonuses depending on performance: According to Boston Sports Journal's Miguel Benzan, the 25-year old is therefore now on the books with $1.34 million as opposed to his original cap hit of $1.54 million – creating salary cap savings of $200,000.
Whether or not the conversion also has an indirect impact on Dorsett's chances of making the team is debatable: While the Patriots now have little incentive to let him go before the fifth day of training camp due to minimal financial gains, having parts of his incentives tied to his on-field performance would make him an easier cut-down day release.
In the end, though, value is the deciding factor: If Dorsett is able to perform well over the course of the summer and live up to his newly-structure contract, he will find himself on the 53-man roster come week one.