The New England Patriots have reportedly signed another member of their 2022 draft class. According to a report by ESPN’s Field Yates, running back Pierre Strong Jr. has put his signature under a four-year, $4.37 million rookie contract.
Strong, 23, arrived in New England as 127th overall selection of this year’s draft. The fourth-round draft pick joined the organization off a productive five-year stint at South Dakota State University, that saw him appear in 48 games and register a combined 5,108 yards from scrimmage and 43 touchdowns.
In 2021, Strong produced his best season to date. Once again serving as the Jackrabbits’ lead running back, Strong started all 15 of his team’s games and finished as its most productive offensive player. Touching the ball 262 times, he gained a combined 1,836 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone a total of 18 times.
Additionally, he went 4-for-4 as a passer for 62 yards and four touchdowns. He also was voted a team captain for a second straight year.
His productivity came mostly against FCS-level competition, but the Patriots still felt comfortable investing a mid-round draft selection to get Strong aboard. Now, they have officially signed the 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back to his contract.
Strong’s deal will hit reduce New England’s salary cap by $178,357 — i.e. the value of the 2022 proration of his fully-guaranteed signing bonus. Additionally, the pact carries a non-guaranteed salary of $705,000 this year. That number will only be charged against the Patriots’ books once the NFL’s Top-51 rule gets lifted in early September.
With Strong now added to the equation, the Patriots’ salary cap as a whole drops to just $142,280 (per Miguel Benzan). This also means that the team currently does not have enough resources to sign its last three draft picks.
First-round guard Cole Strange, second-round wide receiver Tyquan Thornton and fourth-round quarterback Bailey Zappe will all carry a 2022 cap number greater than $142,280 even when putting the Top-51 rule into account.