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2022 NFL free agency: Re-signing Devin McCourty actually increased the Patriots’ salary cap space

Related: Patriots re-sign safety Devin McCourty to reported 1-year, $9 million contract

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Before the start of free agency week, the New England Patriots were able to take care of one of their most important players. Veteran safety and pending unrestricted free agent Devin McCourty was re-signed on a reported one-year, $9 million contract.

The deal will keep McCourty with the Patriots for at least one more season by simultaneously preventing his previous contract from voiding at the start of the 2022 league year on March 16. And not just that: re-signing McCourty also allowed New England to save some money.

How is that possible? A look at the contract details as reported by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss and broken down by salary cap expert Miguel Benzan shows:

Miguel Benzan/@patscap

As can be seen, the Patriots gave McCourty a $1.25 million salary in combination with a $1 million roster bonus and a $6.75 million signing bonus spread out over a five-year span. The last four of those years are expected to void on the first day of the NFL’s 2023 league year next March.

While McCourty will earn the reported $9 million, his salary cap impact is significantly smaller: the 34-year-old will count just $5.75 million against New England’s books this season.

Had he not re-signed, meanwhile, his cap number would have been $700,000 higher.

Why is that the case? If McCourty had remained unsigned heading into the start of the 2022 league year, his previous deal signed in March 2020 would have voided and he would have become an unrestricted free agent. In that case, the entire signing bonus remaining from said contract would have hit the Patriots’ books at a rate of $6.45 million.

With him now signed for another year, however, that bonus remains spread out over the next three seasons as originally agreed upon in 2020. This also means that the Patriots and McCourty will find themselves in the same situation next year: if his new one-year deal voids, both signing bonuses will collectively hit the team’s 2023 salary cap. In that case, McCourty would cost New England $9.7 million.

That is a story for another time, however: as far as 2022 is concerned, the long-time team captain remains in the fold at a comparatively minimal cost. A definitive win for the Patriots.