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2019 NFL free agency: Details released on Patriots contracts with Maurice Harris and Terrance Brooks

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Breaking down the salary cap impact of two of the Patriots’ latest free agent signings.

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On Tuesday, more details about how the Patriots’ flurry of week-one roster additions would impact the 2019 salary cap emerged, as ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported the specifics of Maurice Harris’ one-year deal with New England.

It’s a deal that falls in line with the team’s M.O. over the past couple of seasons with regard to the wide receiver position — a low cost depth move to create competition in camp, with a low six-figure dead cap hit if the player is cut. The deal gives Harris — who is entering his fourth NFL season after going undrafted out of Cal — a $962,500 cap figure in 2019.

The deal also provides the team with a number of protections — the first being that Harris’ release would only create $130,000 in dead money. And, as Reiss reported, if Harris is put on injured reserve, the contract’s split provision would kick in. If this took place prior to the season, it would drop his overall cap figure to $690,500 for 2019.

If he were to make the club and sustain an injury, the weeks in which he would be on IR would be dropped to the weekly split salary amount. For example, let’s say Harris makes the club, is active for the first three games of the year, and then sustains a season-ending injury in week three. In this scenario, his 2019 cap hit would drop to $738,500. Here’s how it would be calculated:

  • Three weeks of standard salary at $42,353 per week: $127,059
  • 14 weeks of split salary at $26,353 per week: $368,941
  • $90,000 signing bonus
  • $40,000 workout bonus
  • $112,500 46-man active roster bonuses ($9,375 per game, likely to be earned for 12 games).

In this specific case, the split provision would save the Patriots $224,000 against the 2019 cap before taking into account the player who would be replacing Harris on the 53-man roster. The team would also receive a credit of $84,375 towards the 2020 salary cap for the likely to be earned per-game bonuses they were charged for, but did not end up coming to fruition.

The fact that the contract also includes an injury waiver is another interesting protection for the team. Harris has an injury history that includes concussions and knee issues, and the waiver could preclude Harris from seeking injury protection should one of these concerns arise in 2019. It’s the same clause the Patriots used when signing wide receiver Austin Collie in 2013.

Mike Reiss also reported on the contact details for new Patriots safety and special teamer Terrance Brooks.

The deal gives Brooks — a former Florida State Seminole entering his sixth NFL season — some solid up front cash, and a some roster security with a guaranteed 2019 salary. His cap hits will be $1.45 million in 2019 and $1.8 million in 2020. If the team opts to release Brooks before his $200,000 roster bonus is due next March, $1.3 million in 2020 cap space would be created (before factoring in the top-51 rule), as well as $250,000 in dead money.

With the signing, the Patriots currently have $10,196,875 — or 5.2% of the team’s adjusted 2019 salary cap — dedicated to five core special teamers: Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner, Brandon Bolden, Brandon King, and Brooks.

The Harris and Brooks signings cost the Patriots $1,347,500 in cap space after replacing two players in the top-51, leaving them with $8,551,722 — a number which does not include contracts for new interior defensive lineman Mike Pennel, wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, or hybrid linebacker John Simon.

Follow Brian Phillips on Twitter - @BPhillips_SB