Examining salaries of Pats' offensive players in '13

Examining salaries of Pats' offensive players in '13
February 14, 2013, 6:56 pm
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By Tom E. Curran

Told you last week about the Patriots salary outlay to their top players. It falls well in line with the rest of the league and -- given how good the top three players have been, the fact Tom Brady Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins take up about 35 percent of the 2013 cap is understandable.

Now let's look at some more key Patriots and see how they are paid relative to their positional peers.

I put some time in figuring out what "place" each player's 2013 base salary is in relative to the position group. With things in a state of flux this time of year, where a player comes in is a snapshot. A guy with a fat 2013 base salary could be a cap casualty tomorrow and the player here would move up.

The base is not the end-all, be-all measure of a contract's value and whether or not the player is being fairly compensated. He may have cleaned up in guaranteed money when he signed. He may have fatter base salaries coming later in the deal or already realized some guaranteed money.

But the relevance of the 2013 base salary for this little exercise is examining where the Patriots' true cash for the upcoming year is headed and how they've positioned themselves.

QUARTERBACK
Tom Brady
Signed: Renegotiated final three years of deal in March, 2012. Expires after 2014
Cash Value: 42M (after renegotiation)
2012 Base: 9.75M
2013 Base: 9.75M
QBs with higher base in 2013: 9
Comment: The more I look at it, the more sense it makes for the Patriots to extend Brady now. He's got the reasonable base but because of last year's renegotiation of the fat contract he signed in 2010, he's got a 21.8M base. Forget about the year he was born, how many years will it be before his performance will be trumped by someone else on their roster? Five? So redo the deal now, add two years, drive down the cap hits the next two seasons and sign him through 2016 for about 20M per. He'll finish the 2016 season as a 39-year-old and turns 40 that summer. A good time to decide what next.

Ryan Mallett
Signed: Four-year deal July 2011, expires after 2014 season
Cash Value: 2.952M
2012 Base: 509K
2013 Base: 643K
QBs with higher base in 2013: 38
Comment: He's a backup quarterback signed to a good number. How'd you like to be a team like the Seahawks with a backup like Matt Flynn chewing up 5.25M in base salary if Seattle doesn't cut or renegotiate with him? And the Seahawks will never get the 6M bonus back. At least they struck gold with Russell Wilson, though and reasonable dough committed to the position as a whole with a good player topping the depth chart. Why am I talking about the Seahawks. No idea. Other than I have no idea whether Mallett will be Matt Cassel or Rohan Davey.

RUNNING BACK
Shane Vereen
Signed: Four-year deal in August 2011, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 3.466M
2012 Base: 465K
2013 Base: 589K
QBs with higher base in 2013: 48
Comment: Tied up to a favorable contract, the Patriots have been cost-efficient at running back for years and the complement of Vereen and Ridley will allow them to stay that way.

Stevan Ridley
Signed: Four-year deal in August 2011, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 2.959M
2012 Base: 509K
2013 Base: 643K
QBs with higher base in 2013: 44
Comment: Another position at which the Patriots are winning in terms of money spent and production delivered. It's important to note, though, that these players will be looking to be paid for having performances that exceeded their pay levels in the coming years. And they should.

TIGHT END
Rob Gronkowski
Signed: Renegotiated June 2012. Expires after 2019 season pending option being exercised after 2015 season
Cash Value: 55.235M
2012 Base: 540K
2013 Base: 630K
TEs with higher base in 2013: 32
Comment: Gronk has the most lucrative overall contract in the league but the Patriots set it up so that this is a tiny, tiny year in terms of his cap hit (2.75M). Caveat to his contract I'm not sure I knew of - if the Patriots decide in March of 2015 not to pick up the option on the 2016 through 2019 Seasons of Gronk, the team cannot franchise or transition tag him.

Aaron Hernandez
Signed: Renegotiated August 2012. Expires after 2018
Cash Value: 38.768M
2012 Base: 540K
2013 Base: 1.323M
QBs with higher base in 2013: 19
Comment: There's a lot of money tied up at the position, especially as the contracts of Gronk-nandez (or Hernkowski) wear on. But for now, things are very friendly for the Patriots in terms of money tied up.

Daniel Fells
Signed: Signed to three-year deal in March 2012, expires after 2014 season
Cash Value: 5.005M
2012 Base: 1M
2013 Base: 1.25M
TEs with higher base in 2013: 25
Comment: He'll need a more productive 2013 than he had in 2012 to justify the paycheck. He's good, albeit relatively pricey, insurance for the guys ahead of him. His veteran status makes him a more dependable stand-in than some random guy plucked in to play for a cheaper price at what has become a critical position for the team. Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui both made 540K last year. They are restricted and exclusive rights free agents respectively.

WIDE RECEIVER
Brandon Lloyd
Signed: Three-year deal in March 2012
Cash Value: 12M
2012 Base: 900K
2013 Base: 1.9M
WRs with higher base in 2013: 40
Comment: Based on what we all saw in 2012, does Brandon Lloyd enjoy physical contact? No. Does he physically fight for the ball or try to finesse his way to receptions by reaching over or around defenders? He likes to reach around. Does he have elite, field-stretching speed? No. But he had 74 catches for 911 yards. And he's not paid like an elite guy. Or even a really good guy. He's paid about like a Kevin Walter. So, in Lloyd's case, the Patriots get what they paid for. Julian Edelman, Deion Branch and Wes Welker are all pending free agents. We'll see what happens with those guys.

TACKLES
NATE SOLDER
Signed: 4-year deal in August 2011, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 8.545M
2012 Base: 763K
2013 Base: 1.151M
Tackles with higher base in 2013: 35
Comment: The Patriots got out of 2012 paying their starting tackles - Solder and Sebastian Vollmer - 1.413M in salary. Don't know if any teams got out that lightly but there couldn't be too many. Solder is going to cost in a couple of seasons when he comes back to the table for his second contract. Vollmer is a free agent this year and - given his back troubles - he should get out there and try to maximize his income on the open market with as much guaranteed money as he can find.

Marcus Cannon
Signed: 4-year deal in July 2011, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 2.343M
2012 Base: 481K
2013 Base: 587K
Tackles with higher base in 2013: 53
Comment: Cannon is listed with the tackles but it remains to be seen if his best position will be there or at guard and whether he'll get consistency that meshes with his athletic talent. He makes a lot of mistakes.

GUARDS

Logan Mankins
Signed: Renegotiated to six-year deal in August 2011, expires after 2016
Cash Value: 51.005M
2012 Base: 2.75M
2013 Base: 5.75M
Guards with higher base in 2013: 4
Comment: Jahri Evans, Davin Joseph and Chris Snee are the only players with bigger base salaries than Mankins this year. New Orleans' Carl Nicks is the best paid guard overall, but he's making just 750,000 in base this year with his salaries returning to the 6 and 7M range next year. With a cap hit of 10.5M this year, Mankins could be a candidate for some tweaking in which his salary is reduced and turned into guaranteed money that can be spread out over the remainder of his deal. One think to keep in mind, though, is that the bear-tough Mankins comes off a season where he missed games and practices for the first time in his career. The end isn't near but it's time to recognize that he's at least at the midpoint of his career.

Dan Connolly
Signed: 3-year deal in March 2012
Cash Value: 9.755M
2012 Base: 1.25M
2013 Base: 2.25M
Guards with higher base in 2013: 22
Comment: Undrafted in 2008. Like Ryan Wendell, Connolly was an undrafted guy who's doing very well for himself financially after rising from basically nowhere. Scrolling through all the contracts for the position, I couldn't help but notice that guards get paid OK.

Nick McDonald
Signed: 3-year deal in December 2011, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 1.367M
2012 Base: 540K
2013 Base: 630K
Guards with higher base in 2013: 47
Comment: Had some moments where he acquitted himself well in 2012 and is a very valuable backup to the oft-dinged guards in front of him.

CENTERS
Ryan Wendell
Signed: 3-year deal in 2011, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 2.494M
2012 Base: 750K
2013 Base: 815.5K
Centers with higher base in 2013: 23
Comment: Undrafted in 2008. Wendell played more snaps than anyone in the NFL in2012, so the Pats got their money's worth while he found an NFL niche. He'sbeen one of the Patriots best scrub-to-starter players in recent memory andthere have been a lot of good ones that followed that track.
KICKERS
Stephen Gostkowski
Signed: Renegotiated to a 5-year deal in 2010, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 15.364M
2012 Base: 2.1M
2013 Base: 2.5M
Kickers with higher base in 2013: 3
Comment: Gostkowski is paid as an elite kicker. Only Miami's Dan Carpenter, Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski and the Niners David Akers (!) are down to make more in base salary in 2013. He had a good 2012 and the Patriots won't have to sweat breaking in a new guy anytime soon.