BOCA RATON, Fla. — The details are in on the contracts for new Patriots defensive players Chris Long and Shea McClellin, and the numbers reflect two veteran players who are expected to have more than just backup roles.
Long’s contract is fairly straightforward: a one-year deal that will pay him $2.375 million with $1 million guaranteed. The nine-year veteran and former No. 2 overall draft pick for the Rams got a $500,000 signing bonus, a roster bonus of $675,000, and a base salary of $1.25 million. Long’s cap number will be $2.375 million.
Long has the third-highest salary cap number among the Patriots’ five defensive linemen. Jabaal Sheard has the highest at $6.8 million, followed by Rob Ninkovich at $4.75 million. Two second-year players, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers, account for approximately $680,000 and $665,000.
McClellin, meanwhile, scored a nice deal, particularly for a former first-round pick who changed positions three times and never quite panned out in four years with the Bears.
McClellin got a three-year, $8.95 million deal from the Patriots with $3.5 million guaranteed, all in the first year of the deal. He received a $2.5 million signing bonus, base salaries of $1 million, $1.9 million, and $2.15 million, roster bonuses of $300,000 each season, and workout bonuses of $100,000, $200,000, and $200,000.
McClellin’s cap numbers will be $2,233,333, $3,233,333, and $3,483,334.
What’s unclear is where the Patriots will use him. McClellin, the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft, began his career as a 4-3 defensive end, switched to 4-3 strong-side linebacker in 2014 and then to 3-4 inside linebacker in 2015. McClellin has 161 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two passes defended in four NFL seasons, with 31 starts.
Coach Bill Belichick declined to provide any insight on his plans with McClellin. The Patriots might transition him back to defensive end and use him as a backup to Ninkovich, who is 32 and entering the final year of his deal.
The Patriots could also use McClellin at one of their linebacker positions, potentially as a base strong-side linebacker and a backup for Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower in the nickel. McClellin also is a possible replacement in case either Hightower or Collins doesn’t re-sign with the Patriots after the 2016 season.
McClellin would have the second-highest cap number among linebackers. Hightower is first at $7.751 million, followed by Jonathan Freeny at $1.74 million, Collins at $1.2 million, and Jon Bostic at $942,000.
Mayo was the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2008, and Belichick opened his media availability with glowing words about the middle linebacker, who was the Patriots’ defensive captain.
“There have been very few players in my career that I’ve had the opportunity to coach that I’d say have more of an impact on a team than Jerod has, from Day One, which is unusual,” Belichick said.
“From the first day he walked into the facility, which was his predraft visit, to after we drafted him in 2008, he’s been a pleasure to coach, a great addition to our team, both on and off the team.
“I’m sure I learned a lot from him than he did from me. But Jerod, Chani [his wife Chantel], and their family brought a special, I’d say, glow to our team, to our organization. Although Jerod will always be a part of the team, he’s obviously welcome. He’s been missed on a daily basis, the attitude and work ethic, and love for football that he brought was special and he was very special.”
Belichick also gave a sendoff to Mankins, the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2005 who played through a torn ACL in the 2011 season.
“Like Jerod, he was a No. 1 draft choice, came in and made an immediate impact on our team,” Belichick said. “His family, Jerod and his family, they were more than just players. They were players in the organization from a total standpoint.”
The NFL passed a handful of new rules for the 2016 season, all of them suggested by the Competition Committee:
■ All chop blocks are now illegal. A chop block is when an offensive player goes low on a defensive player who is already engaged with another player. Cut blocks, in which an offensive player goes low on a player who is not engaged, are still legal.
■ The horse collar rule was expanded to include the grabbing of the name plate on the back of the jersey.
■ The extra point was permanently moved back to the 15-yard line after an experimental season in 2015.
■ Offensive and defensive coaches can now communicate directly with players on the field from the coaches’ box.
■ It is now a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty when a team calls a timeout when it is not permitted to do so.
■ It is now a loss of down, not a 5-yard penalty, when a receiver touches a pass after going out of bounds and reestablishing himself inbounds.
■ There will no longer be multiple spots of enforcement for a double foul after a change of possession.