clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2022 NFL free agency: Contract details show that Ja’Whaun Bentley is a lock to make the Patriots’ roster this year

Related: Patriots re-sign linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley to reported 2-year, $9 million deal

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Three members of the New England Patriots’ linebacker room entered unrestricted free agency last week, but only one has been brought back so far. Ja’Whaun Bentley was re-signed by the Patriots on a reported two-year, $9 million contract.

A look at the details of that deal, however, show that it is cheaper than initially reported. Yes, Bentley can earn up to $9 million but he would have to hit every incentive and roster bonus in order to accomplish that goal. More realistically, he will end up short of that number which is why the pact is in fact a two-year, $6 million deal.

With that said, let’s take a look at the details (via NBC Sports’ Phil Perry):

2022

  • Base salary: $1.04 million (fully guaranteed)
  • Signing bonus proration: $800,000
  • Offseason workout bonus: $100,000
  • Per-game roster bonus: $510,000
  • Incentives: $1.5 million
  • Salary cap number: $2.42 million

As can be seen, the Patriots guaranteed $1.84 million of Bentley’s deal this season: his entire salary and signing bonus proration will be transferred to him even if he fails to play in a single game this year. Given the team’s current off-the-ball linebacker personnel, however, he will more likely than not appear in a lot of games in 2022 — setting himself up well to earn a significant portion of the bonuses and incentives associated with the pact.

Two things stand out about the deal, though. The first is that Bentley can be considered a lock to make New England’s roster this year; releasing him would actually hurt the Patriots’ salary cap given how the contract is structured. The second is his cap number coming in at a relatively moderate $2.42 million; 20 of his teammates have a higher salary cap impact in 2022.

2023

  • Base salary: $2.14 million (incl. $1.26 million guaranteed)
  • Signing bonus proration: $800,000
  • Offseason workout bonus: $100,000
  • Per-game roster bonus: $510,000
  • Incentives: $1.5 million
  • Salary cap number: $3.55 million

While Bentley’s guarantees and salary cap number increase in 2023, his status as a roster lock changes: the Patriots would be able to create gross savings of $1.49 million by moving on from him after the 2022 season. Obviously, however, a lot will happen before any decisions about that season have to be made.

With the exception of a bigger salary, Bentley’s deal looks exactly the same next year. The main question will be which of his bonuses and incentives will be considered likely to be earned when all is said and done, and thus counted against the 2023 cap.

All in all, the deal can be considered a team-friendly one — but one that does give Bentley some job security this season. A classic win-win situation.