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2019 NFL free agency: Details released on Patriots contracts with Jason McCourty and Matt LaCosse

The Patriots’ free agent contract details are starting to emerge.

NFL: Super Bowl LIII-New England Patriots vs Los Angeles Rams John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

After a flurry of Patriots moves over the past 48 hours, some details have finally started to surface with regard to how a couple of the signings will impact New England’s 2019 salary cap situation.

According to former Patriots beat reporter Nick Underhill — who now covers the New Orleans Saints for The Advocate — veteran cornerback Jason McCourty and tight end Matt LaCosse were each signed to two-year contracts.

Based on the reported figures, here’s how McCourty’s deal appears to break down.

As the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on Thursday before further details were released, McCourty is due $6 million in 2019 cash. The $5.5 million in guarantees being reported will come in the form of a $3.5 million signing bonus, and what we are assuming is a $2 million guaranteed 2019 salary. The last $500,000 will likely be earned through 46-man active game day bonuses — a common element in Patriots contracts.

The interesting aspect of the deal is the 2020 option the Patriots must exercise by end of the 2019 league year (March, 2020). If they decline it, the team would save — as of today —$2.25 million in 2020 cap space (before the Top-51 rule goes into effect), and it would create $1.75 million in 2020 dead money.

McCourty’s 2019 cap hit should be $4.25 million — which would increase if the any of his $500,000 incentives become classified as likely to be earned. As is currently stands, it’s the 13th-highest cap hit on the roster in 2019, and the seventh-highest on the defense.

Here’s how new tight end Matt LaCosse’s two-year deal breaks down according to Underhill.

When reported, some were shocked by the “up to $4.8 million” contract figure for LaCosse — a former undrafted free agent out of the University of Illinois. In reality, this is a one-year deal with a club option for 2020.

If LaCosse fails to make the roster at the end of August, his release would create $230,000 in net cap space if he’s replaced in the Top-51 by a player with a $645,000 salary. It would also create $350,000 of dead money in 2019, and $150,000 in 2020.

The contract is actually quite similar to TE deals we’ve seen from the Patriots over the past few offseasons. They’ve had no issue with signing guys like Clay Harbor and Troy Niklas to contracts that included chunks of guaranteed money, only to cut them at some point that season. Harbor’s release in October, 2016 created $587,000 of dead money ($387,000 in 2016, $200,000 in 2017), and Niklas’ release at the end of July, 2018 created $250,000 in dead money.

These two deals will cost the team $4.485 million in space after replacing two minimum salaried players in the Top-51. According to Miguel Benzan (@PatsCap), the Patriots’ cap space figures stood at $7,901,721 before news of Adrian Clayborn’s release — a number that did not yet include the deals given to Mike Pennel, Brandon Bolden, Terrance Brooks, Maurice Harris, Bruce Ellington, or John Simon. With Clayborn gone, that cap space figure increases to $11,344,221.

Follow Brian Phillips on Twitter — @BPhillips_SB