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Jalen Mills’ restructure is a good deal for both him and the Patriots, incentives show

The cornerback will have an opportunity to earn back a significant portion of the money lost through the restructure.

Chicago Bears v New England Patriots Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

The New England Patriots created almost $3.3 million in salary cap space by restructuring Jalen Mills’ contract, but the defensive back will have an opportunity to earn back the money originally lost. His new one-year contract, after all, contains up to $3.6 million in incentives.

How can Mills earn that money? A look at the underlying structure, as first reported by A to Z Sports’ Doug Kyed, illustrates this:

Jalen Mills: Contract incentives

2023: Up to $3.6 million
$600,000: 42% of defensive snaps
$600,000: 50% of defensive snaps
$600,000: 60% of defensive snaps
$600,000: 70% of defensive snaps
$600,000: 80% of defensive snaps
$600,000: 90% of defensive snaps

Mills played some solid football for the Patriots ever since joining the team in 2021, but availability has been a concern. He missed a combined nine games over the last two years, and ended both seasons in New England on the sidelines.

His incentives are therefore tied exclusively to his ability to stay healthy, with an additional $600,000 coming his way for each threshold reached.

The first of those was set at 42 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps, or just above the 41.5 percent he played during the 2022 season (when he missed one game with a hamstring issue and the final six with a groin injury). This means that all six of his incentive steps are classified as not likely to be earned: no matter how much he earns, the cap impact of up to $3.6 million will not hit New England’s books until 2024.

This is a win-win for both sides. Mills can get back the money he lost out on through the restructure by staying healthy, while the Patriots keep an experienced and versatile starter at a relatively limited cost.

Obviously, though, the pressure to perform is on Mills: he needs to show the team that he can be a reliable player if he wants to earn his incentives.