Thanks to team captain David Andrews agreeing to a contract restructure, the New England Patriots were able to sign the final three members of their draft class last week. Among that group was guard Cole Strange, the first player selected by New England this year.
The first-round draft pick, who came off the board 29th overall in April, signed a standard four-year deal with the club. However, it does differ from the deals signed by the Patriots’ nine other draft choices this year.
As noted by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Strange’s deal is fully guaranteed. The contract itself can therefore be broken down as follows from a year-to-year perspective:
- 2022: $2,228,358 cap hit ($705,000 salary + $1,523,358 signing bonus proration)
- 2023: $2,785,448 cap hit ($1,262,090 salary + $1,523,358 signing bonus proration)
- 2024: $3,342,538 cap hit ($1,819,180 salary + $1,523,358 signing bonus proration)
- 2025: $3,899,628 cap hit ($2,376,270 salary + $1,523,358 signing bonus proration)
Strange signing a deal that guarantees not just the signing bonus but the entire salary as well is not as uncommon as it might sound like, even for rookies.
Over the last few years, after all, teams have started to give their first-round draft choices fully-guaranteed contracts. Mac Jones, who was selected 15th overall by the Patriots last year, already earned all of his four-year, $15.59 million pact the moment he put pen to paper, for example. Other players across the league are in the same contractual situation.
Despite the financial commitment, Strange is still a bargain compared to other guards in the NFL. While he obviously has yet to prove himself against pro-level competition, New England’s projected starting left guard has the potential to be one of the biggest bargains on the roster.
Strange’s $2.23 million cap hit in 2022 is not just the 26th highest on New England’s current payroll, it also ranks only 74th among all interior offensive linemen in the league.
His salary cap hits will remain comparatively modest for the next four seasons. After the 2024 campaign, the Patriots will furthermore be able to decide whether or not to keep Strange on the fifth-year option exclusive to first-round picks. While his 2026 salary would increase substantially in that case, it also would be a reflection of a player who performed at a high level during the core years of his rookie pact.