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2022 NFL free agency: Patriots were able to keep Trent Brown on an extremely team-friendly deal

Related: What re-signing Trent Brown means for the Patriots

NFL: NOV 14 Browns at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After already losing left guard Ted Karras in free agency, and following a trade that sent right guard Shaq Mason to Tampa Bay, the New England Patriots saw right tackle Trent Brown test the open market as well. As opposed to Karras, however, the Patriots were able to keep him in the fold: Brown was re-signed on a two-year contract.

As the details of that pact show, it is an extremely team-friendly one. Valued at $11.5 million, it is heavy on incentives and bonuses — reflecting Brown’s recent injury history while giving him the opportunity to earn significantly more than the deal’s base value.

The full numbers, as reported by Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Benzan, break down as follows:

2022

  • Base salary: $1.5 million (fully guaranteed)
  • Signing bonus proration: $1.25 million
  • Offseason workout bonus: $250,000
  • Per-game roster bonus: $1.5 million ($794,118 likely to be earned)
  • Weight bonus: $750,000
  • Incentives: $4.5 million
  • Salary cap number: $4.54 million

Considering that he would hit the Patriots’ salary cap with a dead money charge of $4 million, Brown is a lock to make the team’s roster in 2022. The question is how much he will actually cost: for example, only a part of his per-game roster bonus is considered likely to be earned (LTBE); Brown appeared in just nine of 17 regular season games last year meaning that only $794,118 of that number is currently on New England’s books.

If Brown appears in more than nine games and earns other bonuses or incentives listed as not likely to be earned he would have a negative impact on New England’s 2023 payroll. There is a chance his cap number that year could increase by over $5 million.

That said, the Patriots would probably feel good about such a development. After all, it would mean that Brown was available for most if not all of the 2022 season and playing at a consistently high level — something that was not always the case last year.

2023

  • Base salary: $4 million
  • Signing bonus proration: $1.25 million
  • Offseason workout bonus: $250,000
  • Per-game roster bonus: $1.5 million
  • Weight bonus: $750,000
  • Incentives: $4.5 million
  • Salary cap number: $7.75 million

The bonuses and incentives in Brown’s deal have the same value in 2022 and 2023, but his deal as a whole is still structured differently in its second year. For starters, his base salary jumps from a fully-guaranteed $1.5 million to a potentially partially guaranteed $4 million: $3 million of it become guaranteed if Brown plays 75 percent of offensive snaps in 2022 or is on the roster on the first day of the 2023 league year.

Needless to say that the start of the NFL’s 2023 league year will be a key deadline for the Patriots and Brown. While his outlook for the upcoming season appears set in stone, the same cannot be said for next year — especially if Brown fails to hit the 75-percent play-time threshold.