Amid the flurry of Tuesday morning’s roster activity was the news that, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the Patriots and Jason McCourty reached an agreement to restructure the defensive back’s 2018 contract prior to Sunday’s victory in Foxborough.
Jason McCourty adjusted his contract prior to the regular-season opener, with his base salary trimmed from $2.375 million to $1.6 million. McCourty has a chance to earn $1 million in playing-time incentives, and $400,000 in per-game roster bonuses.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 11, 2018
Of the $1 million playing-time incentives, Jason McCourty can earn $200,000 for 40 percent of the defensive snaps, another $200,000 for 50 percent, another $200,000 for 60 percent, another $200,000 for 70 percent, and another $200,000 for 80 percent.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) September 11, 2018
Here’s how Jason McCourty’s deal now breaks down on the team’s salary cap sheet:
2018 salary: $1,600,000
2018 roster bonus: $375,000 (already paid)
Per-game bonuses: $350,000 ($400,000 “LTBE” for 14 games)
“LTBE” Incentives: $1,000,000
Offseason workout bonus: $7,095
Total 2018 cap figure: $3,332,095
Because McCourty played in 84.18% of the Browns’ defensive snaps a year ago, the $1,000,000 playing time incentives will be considered likely to be earned (LTBE), increasing his 2018 cap figure by $356,250. In turn, the restructure will cost the Patriots that amount in 2018 cap space — a figure that could increase by $50,000 if he is active for all 16 regular season games this year.
Why would the team agree to a restructure that would cost them cap space — particularly with a player who was perceived to be on the roster bubble coming out of camp? It’s simple, really.
The team clearly sees the value in having McCourty provide depth at multiple positions in the secondary, while also contributing on special teams. However, his contract just wasn’t commensurate with that type of role. In reality, the agreement is a player pay cut of which the salary cap benefits for the organization are deferred. Barring an epidemic of injuries to the team’s secondary, McCourty will not come close to earning much, if not all, of the playing time incentives — as evidence by his 6 defensive snaps played against the Texans. Any unearned incentive cash, as well as any unpaid per-game bonus money, will be credited to the team’s 2019 adjusted cap figure.
McCourty — an NFL veteran playing in his 10th season — is clearly happy with an opportunity for a spot on a roster where he can chase a Super Bowl victory alongside his twin brother. Were he not to agree to the pay cut, he likely would have been released, leaving him with the improbability of receiving comparable compensation on the open market for his services.
Coupled with the signings of wide receivers Corey Coleman and Bennie Fowler on Tuesday, the Patriots’ 2018 cap space figure currently sits around $4.8 million.