clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Details released on restructure for Patriots RT Marcus Cannon

Diving into the details and curious timing of Marcus Cannon’s restructure.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Following Mike Silver’s NFL Network report on Monday evening that the Patriots restructured the contract of veteran right tackle Marcus Cannon, the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin reported the agreement’s finer details on Wednesday morning.

The move opens up $2,520,834 in 2019 cap space for the Patriots, and Marcus Cannon’s new cap figure now stands at $4,935,416. Here’s how it breaks down:

Salary: $1,000,000

Existing signing bonus proration: $1,400,000

New signing bonus proration: $1,166,666

Weigh-in bonus: $100,000 (already earned)

Offseason workout bonus: $50,000 (already earned)

Per-game bonuses: $1,218,750 $93,750 per game, LTBE for 13 games

This restructure is fascinating for a couple of reasons — the first being the delicate balance of the agreement’s team and player “friendliness”. Cannon was already guaranteed $2.15 million of his original $5.5 million 2019 salary, and the rest would’ve been guaranteed in week one since he is a vested veteran. He now gets the security of knowing he definitely won’t be a surprise camp cut, and the perk of receiving $3.5 million right away.

That new signing bonus also gives the 2016 Second-Team All-Pro some additional security for next season, as cutting him prior to June 1st, 2020 is now less financially viable from a cap perspective. Before the restructure, the team could’ve saved $4.95 million in net 2020 cap space with $1.4 million in dead money. Now, that net savings figure would fall to $2,616,667, with $3,733,333 in dead money.

In exchange for this increased guarantee at the beginning of camp, the team receives some risk mitigation by taking the $1 million remaining when subtracting his new bonus and 2019 salary from his original $5.5 million salary, and converting it into per-game bonuses. If Cannon plays all 16 regular season games this season, $281,250 will be deducted from the team’s 2020 adjusted team salary cap figure. If Cannon gets injured or is inactive for any other reason and misses more than three games, the Patriots will receive a $93,750 credit on next year’s cap for each one of those games.

The second reason the restructure is interesting is because of where it positions the team moving forward from a cap space perspective. At right around $7.5 million in available cap space, the team now has ample room to cover all of their in-season expenditures like an IR cushion, practice squad, NLTBE per-game bonuses that end up being earned, etc. With cap space running a bit on the low side, it was originally anticipated that this cushion would be achieved through a Tom Brady extension, which of course has yet to come to fruition.

So what does this mean? Can we glean any insight on the nature of the Brady negotiations through the lens of this move? There are a few possibilities.

Possibility 1: It means nothing, and a cap space-creating Brady extension is on the horizon.

Personally, I don’t buy this one. If that was the case, then this Cannon restructure wouldn’t be necessary, and they wouldn’t have had to add more dead money onto the future years of his deal. They needed this cap space, and having already restructured Stephon Gilmore’s deal this offseason, Cannon’s was the next best place get it. Also, asking Cannon to take a large pay cut with the threat of a release behind it clearly was not an option given the uncertainty at the left tackle spot, and with rookie Yodny Cajuste on the NFI list. This leads us to the next possibility...

Possibility 2: The numbers and/or structure that Brady’s team is currently looking for on a new extension are high enough that any new deal would be cap-neutral, or even cost New England some cap space.

It’s been the burning question for the past year or so — what does an extension look like for a 42-year-old Tom Brady? Many have speculated — including myself — but no one really knows. Does he take another “discount” at around $25-28 million per year? Is it closer to $30 million per year or more? What do the guarantees look like?

Unfortunately, we simply just don’t know. But the fact that the team is utilizing other avenues to clear out 2019 cap space is extremely intriguing.

Possibility 3: Negotiations have stalled, and for the first time in his career, Tom Brady will play on a contract year — likely leading to a 2020 franchise tag.

This feels like the ‘Elmo summoning a blazing inferno’ gif of all possibilities, and it’s certainly the most unlikely. But honestly, if this is how the Patriots want to handle this unique situation moving forward, it could be the right way to go. A 2020 Brady franchise tag would cost $32.4 million and would be fully guaranteed once the tender was signed. For what it’s worth, if the franchise tag rules go unchanged in the next CBA, a 2021 franchise tag would then be worth $38.88 million. A two-tag approach would obviously afford the team the protection of taking it year-by-year — but they’d definitely be paying a premium for it.

Would Brady and his team be open to it? You wouldn’t think so, but at 42-years-old, and having stated he’d like to play until 45, he would just need to balance how much long term security he really needs against the strong compensation of one or two tags. Receiving the tag next year would give him the second-most 2020 cash of any player in the league behind Carson Wentz, and the 2021 tag would give him by far the most.

Look, it’s always interesting reading the tea leaves and trying to piece together what we think could potentially happen. Because, when it comes to these types of situations, one thing is certain — we won’t be getting the answers from Tom Brady or Bill Belichick.

Follow Brian Phillips on Twitter — @BPhillips_SB