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The financial impact of the Patriots’ latest deals

Dwayne Allen, Stephon Gilmore, and Brandin Cooks.Wire photos/File

The Patriots have been wheeling and dealing at the start of NFL free agency, signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a massive contract, bringing back a few key pieces (Alan Branch, Duron Harmon) and swinging three impactful trades (Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dwayne Allen).

The contract details on all six players are in, taking a bite out of the Patriots’ $60 million in salary cap space. (They still have about $36 million in space, per NFL Players Association records.)

Let’s take a look at the financial impact of these deals:


CB Stephon Gilmore

Contract: Five years, $65 million.

Guarantee: $31 million fully guaranteed in the first two years, with another $9 million guaranteed in 2019 for injury only.

Bonuses: $18 million signing bonus. $500,000 each year in roster bonus ($31,250 per game active).

Salary cap figures: $8.6 million, $12.6 million, $13.6 million, $14.6 million, $15.6 million.

Analysis: This is a monster deal for Gilmore, the biggest the Patriots have ever given to a free agent from another team. Clearly, the Patriots value Gilmore’s size and press-man coverage abilities, and have big plans for him as a No. 1 cornerback.

The $18 million signing bonus is the second-largest given in the NFL this offseason, behind Nick Perry’s $18.5 million in Green Bay.

Gilmore will make $23 million in Year 1, $32 million through Year 2, and $42 million through Year 3. He got a better deal than the one signed by A.J. Bouye in Jacksonville, who got a $10 million signing bonus, $26 million guaranteed over two years, and a three-year cash flow of $40.5 million. Not many people across the league expected Gilmore to get more money than Bouye.

Even though Gilmore’s full guarantees are in the first two years of the deal, he has a decent shot to make it three years before the Patriots consider a restructure. And his $13 million average annual salary is second on the Patriots only to Tom Brady’s $15 million per year.


This deal also greatly decreases the chances that the Patriots give a major contract extension to Malcolm Butler. They have the money and cap space to do so, but I can’t imagine they have the appetite to pay big bucks for two cornerbacks.

WR Brandin Cooks

Contract: One year, $1,563,198, plus a fifth-year option that must be triggered in May but doesn’t become guaranteed until March 2018.

Guarantee: Cooks’s entire salary is fully guaranteed.

Bonuses: His salary is split in half. He will receive a $781,599 roster bonus on Monday, and the other $781,599 in bi-weekly increments during the regular season.

Salary cap figure: $1,563,198.

Analysis: Cooks might just be a one-year rental. But what a value for the Patriots, getting a dynamic, home-run-hitting receiver for just $1.5 million and the 32nd overall draft pick.

If the Patriots don’t love the fit, they’ll let him walk in free agency next year and collect a compensatory draft pick. But they also control his rights for 2018, if they choose.

Since Cooks was the Saints’ first-round pick in 2014, his contract comes with a fifth-year option, which the Patriots have until May 2 of this year to trigger. It is guaranteed for injury only at the time of signing, and becomes fully guaranteed next March. So the Patriots can trigger the option with little risk, and cut Cooks before next March if they want to move on.


In 2017, the fifth-year option for receivers will be $7.915 million, so let’s assume that Cooks’s option is about $9 million. That’s a significant pay increase from $1.5 million, but the Patriots can look at it as they have Cooks under control for two years and $10 million to $11 million. That’s still great value for one of the best young receivers in the NFL, who is only 23 years old.

DE Kony Ealy

Kony Ealy recorded five sacks and three forced fumbles last season.Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Contract: One year, $903,660.

Guarantee: $0.

Bonuses: $100,000 offseason workout bonus.

Salary cap figure: $903,660.

Analysis: Another low-risk, high-value move for the Patriots, who dropped only eight spots in the draft — from pick 64 to 72 — to add a cheap pass rusher in Ealy.

His salary of $803,660 is eminently reasonable, and if he has a terrible training camp, the Patriots can release him with no salary cap hit, other than the $100,000 workout bonus, assuming he achieves it.

Ealy (6 feet 4 inches, 275 pounds) can play all across the defensive line, and should take Chris Long’s place in the rotation (60 percent of snaps). If he plays well, the Patriots can look to extend him. If not, they can let him walk next year and collect a compensatory pick.

DT Alan Branch

Contract: Two years, $8.45 million with another $3.55 million in incentives.

Guarantee: $3 million (all in Year 1).


Bonuses: $2 million signing bonus. $1 million roster bonus due on the first day of the 2018 league year. $1.25 million in per-game roster bonuses ($40,625 per game active in 2017, $37,500 per game active in 2018). $800,000 in offseason workout bonuses ($400,000 each year, including weight bonuses). $1.25 million in playing-time incentives in 2017, $2.3 million in playing-time incentives in 2018.

Salary cap figures: $3.75 million, $4.7 million.

Analysis: Bringing back Branch for next year was key. He was a disruptive force in the middle of the defense and arguably the Patriots’ most consistent defender all season. And for Branch, who just finished a two-year, $5.3 million deal, he gets a nice pay bump.

But the Patriots are certainly making him earn it. Between the per-game roster bonuses, the weight bonuses, and the playing-time incentives, Branch could make as little as $3.7 million and as much as $6 million in 2017.

If he plays well again this year, then the Patriots will have no problem picking up his $1 million roster bonus next March. If not, they can release him with only a $1 million salary cap penalty. And if the Patriots do pick up the option in 2018, he could make as little as $1 million or as much as $6 million.

So at most, it’s two years and $12 million. At worst, it’s one year and $4.75 million, assuming he plays in all 16 games in 2017. Another good value signing.

TE Dwayne Allen

Contract: Three years, $17.4 million.


Guarantee: $0.

Bonus: $2 million roster bonus due Monday.

Salary cap numbers: $5 million, $5 million, $7.4 million.

Analysis: The Colts gave Allen a four-year, $29.4 million contract last offseason, and paid him $12 million for one year. The Patriots assume the final three years and $17.4 million, with none guaranteed, though obviously they will keep him for 2017. His $5 million in compensation for this season is almost the same as the Patriots paid Martellus Bennett last year ($5.185 million). This seems to be the Patriots’ price point for their No. 2 tight end.

Allen has had some injury issues, missing 10 games over the last three years. But he’s a good blocker and a solid red-zone threat, catching 15 touchdown passes the last three seasons. And the Patriots wouldn’t suffer a salary cap hit if they want to release Allen after 2017.

The Patriots have good value with little risk with this deal.

FS Duron Harmon

Duron Harmon has intercepted seven passes and knocked down 13 more in four seasons with the Patriots.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Contract: Four years, $17 million with another $3 million in incentives.

Guarantee: $6.5 million (all in Year 1).

Bonuses: $5 million signing bonus, $3 million in per-game roster bonuses ($750,000 per season, $46,875 per game active), $3 million in playing-time incentives ($750,000 per season).

Salary cap numbers: $3.5 million, $3.5 million, $4.5 million, $5.5 million.

Analysis: Harmon has started only 12 games in four seasons with the Patriots, but he has been a key piece of the defense. Bringing him back gives the Patriots much-needed versatility. While Devin McCourty is the starting free safety, Harmon has great range as a deep center fielder (seven career interceptions) and allows the Patriots to use McCourty as an in-the-box safety or as a slot cornerback against bigger receivers. The Patriots’ nickel package often includes Harmon as the fifth defensive back, not another cornerback. Harmon also has been durable, missing only one game in four years.

And this deal represents a nice pay bump for Harmon, particularly the signing bonus and two-year cash flow of $9.5 million. Harmon just finished his rookie deal, making $3.7 million over four years.

But like Branch, the Patriots are making Harmon earn a significant chunk of his money: $750,000 in per-game roster bonuses and $750,000 in incentives each year. And he doesn’t have anything guaranteed past 2017. But Harmon has been solid and dependable, and the contract is reasonable enough that he could easily make it through all four years.

Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter@BenVolin.