Don’t expect Jabrill Peppers to be wearing a different uniform anytime soon. While the total value of his one-year free agency contract with the New England Patriots does not scream “roster lock,” the structure of the pact makes it obvious that Peppers is very much in the team’s plans for the upcoming season.
A first-round draft pick in 2017, Peppers spent the first two years of his career with the Cleveland Browns before getting traded to the New York Giants. He entered the open market after three seasons in New York, including the last one that ended with a torn ACL.
Apparently, though, the Patriots are feeling confident that Peppers will make a full recovery and make a positive impact on their defensive backfield.
- Base salary: $1.05 million (fully guaranteed)
- Signing bonus proration: $300,000
- Offseason workout bonus: $225,000
- Active roster bonus: $425,000
- Incentives: $3 million
- Salary cap number: $1.73 million
While the total value of the contract is only $2 million, the Patriots guaranteed a significant portion of it in the form of his entire base salary and signing bonus proration. The $1.35 million dead cap number resulting from this — compared to $375,000 in savings — makes a release before the start of the season a highly unlikely scenario.
In fact, New England will give Peppers an opportunity to prove himself coming off his season-ending knee injury. If he successfully does that, he stands to gain a significant financial boost as well: he can earn up to $3 million in play-time incentives to set the maximum achievable value of the pact at $5 million; still a reasonable number for a player who would likely have to perform at a high starter level to earn that amount.
As far as the Patriots’ 2022 books are concerned, however, Peppers will only carry a modest cap number of $1.73 million. The fact that this number and the base value of the deal are so low also means New England will not have to worry about sacrificing a compensatory draft pick by acquiring Peppers.
As was pointed out by Nick Korte of Over the Cap, Peppers’ deal does not qualify him as a compensatory free agent. Accordingly, the team is still projected to earn third- and sixth-round selections next year for losing cornerback J.C. Jackson and guard Ted Karras, respectively.