We all knew the Patriots would have to make a move or two to give themselves some breathing room with the salary cap, but they made a pretty interesting one with a very short term $20.06 million two year extension for Nate Solder. According to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Solder will receive a $12.5 million signing bonus and a total of $19.938 million guaranteed. That looks to give the Patriots about $1.83 million in cap relief this season, but it was the short term nature of the contract I found most interesting.
I’ve spoken often about players somewhat recklessly throwing away potential earning years by taking long terms contracts in order to receive larger than life total contract values or annual values that make a player the prime talking point for a few days following the signing. In the rare times when the player outperforms the contract they are stuck on what is, by that point in time, a below market contract with almost no recourse.
Solder instead flipped a trend of ultra long term contracts at the position and basically accepted the payment he was worth on a long term extension, without the longer term. With the Patriots agreeing to essentially the same cash flow structure as a 5+ year extension, Solder’s APY explodes into the $10 million per year club, when his numbers track in the group below.
That more or less indicates a $9 million per year valuation on Solder by the Patriots with some added upside if he makes the Pro Bowl and similar downside if not healthy. The price is a bit higher than this years franchise tag and likely a bit lower than next years tag so there was no real concession made by either side in that regard. If anything it just seems that they considered it an option on the table and worked a new money guarantee ($12.5 million) to come close to mimicing the tag.
The other thing that stood out to me is that this contract runs parallel to Tom Brady’s which will also expire after the 2017 season. Since an extension this short is somewhat unusual it would not surprise me if the Patriots made a conscious decision to not have any major extensions on the offensive side of the football to run beyond Brady’s possible playing career. If they opted for the longer term contract they would likely absorb a pretty hefty dead charge for Solder if they cut him. Now they can just cut all ties with no cap implications when the contract expires or they can re-visit keeping him as the blindside protection for either a new QB or Brady. If so thats a pretty shrewd manuever by New England and might show some other players the basic parameters of contracts that they are looking to do in the future.
Solder also received a no franchise tag provision, but that was likely an easy decision for the Patriots to make since both of their quarterbacks are set to be free agents that year and they will need that in their back pocket for any contract negotiations and leverage moving forward.