No ship in the NFL is run tighter than the New England Patriots’ — a main reason for the club’s success over the last two decades, but also for its reputation as an organization not necessarily willing to pay top-dollar for its talent. That is, of course, not true as the Patriots have time and again in the past handed out some of the biggest contracts in the league. And not just that, they also regularly altered contracts for the players’ benefit.
Such a thing happened today as well. According to a report by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, New England raised the pay of two players who just missed out on contract incentives during the 2018 season: running back James White earned an additional $250,000, while defensive tackle Lawrence Guy was given $400,000. Both would have earned the money had they hit their respective incentives last year.
White would have received $250,000 had he played 60% of New England’s offensive snaps or finished the year with 1,200 yards from scrimmage. He finished the season with a playing time share of 53.6% and 1,176 yards — close, but not close enough. The Patriots now added a signing bonus proration to his deal, however, to give him the extra money while spreading out the salary cap hit over the next two years.
The same was done with Lawrence Guy, who would have earned an additional $400,000 had he played 50% of New England’s defensive snaps last year: he came up just three snaps short after being on the field for 519 of 1,043 — or 49.8% of possible snaps. As is the case with White, the Patriots hand him his incentives check anyway as a signing bonus that is spread out over the next two seasons.
By designating the two incentives as signing bonuses, only half of their combined value of $650,000 hits New England’s 2019 cap. The moves per se are not unprecedented, as the Patriots have altered contracts before to make players earn bonus money after just narrowly missing incentives the year prior. In fact, Lawrence Guy, received an additional $500,000 that way just one year ago.