The New England Patriots re-signed veteran offensive lineman James Ferentz to a new one-year contract on Thursday. While not the sexiest of moves, it is not hard to see why the team made it.
For one, re-signing Ferentz now is preventing him from entering unrestricted free agency next week. It also helps the team keep its top backup along the interior O-line around for another year — all at a limited financial commitment.
As a look at the contract details shows, after all, Ferentz’s deal is a cheap one. In fact, it is even cheaper than its face value suggests.
James Ferentz: Contract details
Base salary: $1.165 million (incl. $150,000 guaranteed)
Signing bonus: $50,000
Salary cap hit: $1.02 million
Ferentz’s new contract features a $1.165 million base salary — the minimum for a player of his experience — as well as a $50,000 signing bonus and $30,000 in incentives considered likely to be earned based on his 2022 season. A combined $200,000 of the deal’s cash is guaranteed: he is certain to get $150,000 of his salary, plus his entire signing bonus.
Despite the contract totaling out at a combined $1.215 million, Ferentz’s salary cap number will be lower than that. Why? Let’s meet Article 27 of the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement: the veteran salary benefit.
Entering his 10th season in the league, Ferentz’s contract qualifies for such treatment. This means that only a portion of his salary ($940,000) will actually hit the Patriots’ cap, with the rest of it ($225,000) considered a benefit. Those numbers are not arbitrarily chosen: per the CBA, the salary of a qualifying contract will be the same as the veteran’s minimum for a player with two accrued seasons. For 2023, that number is — you guessed it — $940,000.
Ferentz’s contract will therefore count only roughly 0.5 percent against the maximum salary cap this season. The team could also move on from him without any major dead money charge: only his guarantees would remain on the team’s books should he get cut.
All in all, the contract therefore looks like a win-win for both sides. The Patriots’ financial investment is minimal, while Ferentz gets to stick around for a seventh season.