How do the salaries of Pats' defenders stack up?

How do the salaries of Pats' defenders stack up?

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.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
Vince Wilfork
Signed: Five-year deal in March of 2010
Cash Value: 39.49M
2012 Base: 4.5M
2013 Base: 6.5M
DTs contracted for higher base in 2013: 4
Comment: Only Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Kevin Williams will carry a higher base in 2013. Wilfork is right where he should be though, and higher on the list would be appropriate as well. The Patriots most important defender.

Kyle Love
Signed: Renegotiated an extension in August 2012
Cash Value: 1.895M
2012 Base: 540K
2013 Base: 750K
DTs contracted for higher base in 2013: 39
Comment: Love had an up-and-down year - excellent at the outset then supplanted somewhat by Brandon Deaderick. Still, as he enters this contract year, the Patriots have a good player who'll be motivated by the chance to make a bigger score when he becomes a free agent after this season.

DEFENSIVE ENDS

Brandon Deaderick
Signed: Four-year deal in July 2010, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 2.657M (with escalator in 2013)
2012 Base: 540K
2013 Base: 1.33M (realizes escalator from 575K to low RFA tender of 1.33M)
DEs contracted for higher base in 2013: 34
Comment: Deaderick's deal as a seventh-rounder in 2010 was shaped the same as punter Zoltan Mesko's. Deaderick was listed among the DEs in the information we used.

Rob Ninkovich
Signed: Renegotiated three-year deal in September of 2011, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 5.065M
2012 Base: 900K
2013 Base: 900K
DEs contracted for higher base in 2013: 44
Comment: For a fifth-round pick who bounced around before finding a home in New England, Ninkovich has done OK. And the Patriots have done well with his deal, spending 1.8M for one of their best playmakers over 2012-13.

Chandler Jones
Signed: Four-year deal in May 2012, expires after 2015
Cash Value: 8.173M
2012 Base: 390K
2013 Base: 761K
DEs contracted for higher base in 2013: 50
Comment: Still on his rookie deal, Jones is going to have a lot of players making a fatter base than he does. His time will come.

Jermaine Cunningham
Signed: Four-year deal in June 2010, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 3.608M
2012 Base: 549K
2013 Base: 575K
DEs contracted for higher base in 2013: 55
Comment:In the last year of his deal, Cunningham is on the cusp of being a very valuable player but he's still trying to carve consistency. It will be interesting to see what he does in a vitally important contract year.

Jake Bequette
Signed: Four-year deal in June 2012, expires after 2015
Cash Value: 2.654M
2012 Base: 390K
2013 Base: 480K (his base is "tied to credited seasons)
DEs contracted for higher base in 2013: 72
Comment: No info on what Bequette's contract adjusts to if he doesn't have a credited season in 2012 and he was inactive for so many games, he did not get a credited year.

Justin Francis
Signed: Three-year deal in May 2012, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 1.447M
2012 Base: 390K
2013 Base: 480K (his base is "tied to credited seasons)
DEs contracted for higher base in 2013: 72
Comment: Francis' deal was almost identical to Bequette's save for the length and the 529,800 more that Bequette got as a third-round draft pick in contrast to the undrafted Francis. He'll be a real deal if he keeps competing at the same level and gets a little sharper in the defense.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Jerod Mayo
Signed: Renegotiated seven-year deal in December 2011, expires after 2017
Cash Value: 50.655M
2012 Base: 1.15M base
2013 Base: 1.25M base
OLBs contracted for higher base in 2013: 2
Comment: Mayo's deal is complex because he has 3M option bonuses deferred into March and October, so he'll actually be paid 7.25M in cash this season and he also had a bonus of up to 800K based on playing time and a Pro Bowl appearance which he no doubt hit (no info on what the levels were). So it's potentially 8.05M in 2013. So the base - while accurate - is not really indicative of how much he's getting paid. So I went off the adjusted base of 8.05M.

Dont'a Hightower
Signed: Four-year deal in July 2012, expires after 2015
Cash Value: 7.724M
2012 Base: 390K base
2013 Base: 741K base
OLBs contracted for higher base in 2013: 42
Comment: Hightower has a portion of his signing bonus deferred into this year but that doesn't really impact his base salary which is reasonable enough for a first-round pick in the second year of his deal.

MIDDLE LINEBACKERS
Brandon Spikes
Signed: Four-year deal in July 2010, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 2.744M
2012 Base: 540K base
2013 Base: 575K base
OLBs contracted for higher base in 2013: 31
Comment: The Patriots have Spikes at a very advantageous price this year. He came on strong in 2012 and - with his deal up at the end of the year - he could be a renegotiation target for the team.

CORNERS

Alfonzo Dennard
Signed: 4-year deal in May 2012, expires after 2016
Cash Value: 2.157M
2012 Base: 390K
2013 Base: 480K
CBs contracted for higher base in 2013: 100
Comment: Dennard is - by dint of his being a seventh-round pick - going to be an outstanding value for the entirety of his contract. Hopefully for his sake, the seemingly isolated stupid act that caused his value to plummet won't haunt his earning power his entire career and he can recoup some of that dough later.

Devin McCourty
Signed: 5-year deal in July 2010, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 10.135M
2012 Base: 540K
2013 Base: 650K
CBs contracted for higher base in 2013: 54
Comment: Having been switched to safety where he'll likely stay, McCourty's 2013 base will be closer to the top of that lower-paid position group. But either way, the Patriots have a very good - if somewhat inconsistent - defender who is a team leader and a real pro under contract for a terrific price.

Ras-I Dowling
Signed: Four-year deal in August 2011, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 5.309M
2012 Base: 732K
2013 Base: 973K
CBs contracted for higher base in 2013: 42
Comment: Plagued by injuries in each of his first two seasons, Dowling has had little chance to prove his true worth. He'll enjoy a fairly handsome paycheck in 2013 given the output so far.

SAFETIES
Steve Gregory
Signed: Three-year deal in 2012, expires after 2014
Cash Value: 7.055M
2012 Base: 750K
2013 Base: 1.25M
Safeties contracted for higher base in 2013: 15
Comment: Gregory is winning. Smart player. Good locker room guy. Not a very valuable safety in the current NFL where he battles to be average in coverage and, when tackling, looks like Jeff Van Gundy breaking up a fight. (http:www.youtube.comwatch?v=nWqv5fNeosc ). He's a free safety but, if Devin McCourty is a full-time safety going forward, it's hard to imagine Gregory being a 1.25M backup because he and McCourty are both free safeties. With a cap hit of 2.55 this year and 3.68M next year, Gregory may not be long for New England

Tavon Wilson
Signed: Four-year deal in May 2012 expires after 2015.
Cash Value: 4.217M
2012 Base: 390K
2013 Base: 581K
Safeties contracted for higher base in 2013: 20
Comment: Had some promising moments in 2012, although the Seattle gaffe on a double-move late in the game that resulted in the game-winning touchdown was a donkey punch. He's a pretty good deal at this point.

LONG SNAPPER

Danny Aiken
Signed: Three-year contract claimed July, 2011, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 1.4M
2012 Base: 465K
2013 Base: 550K
Snappers contracted for higher base in 2013: 13
Comment: Runs a good operation with Zoltan Mesko and Stephen Gostkowski. He is below the current rate for signed long snappers. A lot of would-be free agents on the market means Aiken is closer to the bottom than his position indicates.

PUNTER
Zoltan Mesko
Signed: Four-year contract signed June, 2010, expires after 2013
Cash Value: 2.832M (initial value was 2.07M)
2012 Base: 540K
2013 Base: 1.33M (realizes escalator from 575K to low RFA tender of 1.33M)
Punters contracted for higher base in 2013: 4
Comment: Mesko's numbers are impacted by the fact he's so often got a short field to work with since the Patriots don't often go three-and-out and give him a chance to boom punts. His 2012 performance still wasn't as good as it could have been. He's in a good contractual spot for himself in the final year of his deal.

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

penguins_guentzel_052917.jpg

STANLEY CUP FINALS: Guentzel's goal lifts Penguins by Predators 5-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh rookie Jake Guentzel beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in finals history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37:09 at one point without a shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions.

All the guys from the place dubbed "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

It temporarily deflated Nashville and gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge.

Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Nick Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa, when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead they rallied.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second. Though Nashville didn't get another one by Murray, they also kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

bryce_harper_hunter_strickland_fight_052917.jpg

Posey stays out of the fray during Strickland-Harper brawl

SAN FRANCISCO  — As an irate Bryce Harper charged toward the mound, Buster Posey just stood and watched from behind home plate.

And when the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants cleared their benches Monday and punches flew both ways, the All-Star catcher did his best to remain just outside the fray.

Not where some expected to find the Giants team leader with his pitcher, Hunter Strickland, exchanging head shots with Harper.

“Posey did NOTHING to stop Harper from getting to his pitcher,” former major league pitcher Dontrelle Willis wrote on Twitter. “I’ve never seen that before in my life.”

Posey declined to enter the fracas, instead remaining around its edges and watching as the players scuffled in “a pretty good pile,” as Giants manager Bruce Bochy called it.

Posey dealt with a concussion in April after being struck in the head by a pitch, but did not say he held back because of concerns related to that. He did say he was wary about the risk of injury.

“There were some big guys tumbling around out there,” Posey said. “You see Mike Morse and Jeff Samardzija are about as big as they come and he was getting knocked around like a pinball. So it was a little dangerous to get in there.”

Still, social media was abuzz at the sight of Posey not sticking up for his teammate.

“Strickland must have told @BusterPosey he was hitting him and let him come cause he didn’t even give a soft jog,” Willis wrote.

“Says all you need to know that Buster Posey didn’t bother to hold back Harper,” tweeted Fox broadcaster Kevin Burkhardt . “Let him go get his pitcher.”

Also absent from the fight: hard-nosed Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. As his teammates flew over the dugout railing, Bumgarner stayed put, perhaps because the left-hander is still recovering after injuring his pitching shoulder and ribs in a dirt biking accident in April.