Last year at this time, the New England Patriots had already signed eleven 11 free agents with most of them locks to make the eventual roster. This year, the team is operating differently: while a few in-house free agents were re-signed only one player was added from outside the organization.
That player is cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who was signed to a reported one-year deal with a total value of $3 million. As a look at the full details from that contract shows, however, a lot would have to go right for Mitchell to earn all of that money.
In fact, the 29-year-old is not even a lock to make the roster based on how the pact has been structured (via ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss):
- Base salary: $1.21 million (incl. $150,000 guaranteed)
- Signing bonus: $200,000
- Roster bonus: $340,000
- Playing time incentives: $1.25 million
To earn the full $3 million that have originally been reported, Mitchell would have to hit all of his roster bonuses at a rate of $20,000 per game as well as his playing time incentives. While the escalators to trigger those incentives are not known just yet, it is a safe bet to assume that he will need to exceed his 69.3-percent snap share from a year ago.
Accordingly, a significant portion of the contract will be considered not likely to be earned and therefore not counted against the Patriots’ cap just yet. Using the information above, we can therefore see that Mitchell’s salary cap number for the 2022 season will be only $1.69 million.
For comparison, only the $350,000 in guarantees would be counted as dead cap in case of a release. That means, if the Patriots decide to part ways with Mitchell at one point in the future, the team would create gross savings of $1.34 million.
There is still a long way to go before the discussion will shift towards him making the roster or not, but the contract details proof that Mitchell is no lock to make the team. His pact is therefore a low-risk/high-upside deal for the Patriots: if Mitchell can show the form he displayed at times in Cleveland and Kansas City, he might just earn a roster spot. If not, releasing him will not hurt the team too much financially.