NFL free agency doesn’t officially begin until Wednesday, but several former Patriots players have signed with new teams, and the terms of their deals are trickling out.
As expected, Trey Flowers and Trent Brown landed massive deals with their new teams, with Flowers getting paid on par with the game’s top defensive players, and Brown setting a record for an offensive lineman.
Meanwhile, slot receiver Danny Amendola got a solid one-year commitment from Detroit, and tight end Dwayne Allen will pocket a seven-figure bonus and a chance to win a roster spot in Miami.
Let’s take a look at the numbers, obtained by the Globe Tuesday:
■ Flowers developed into a solid player with the Patriots, accumulating 21 sacks over three seasons and helping them win two Super Bowls. But he’s never made a Pro Bowl and certainly wouldn’t be considered one of the league’s dominant pass rushers.
Yet that didn’t stop the Lions from making Flowers the fifth-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at $18 million per season, behind only Khalil Mack, Aaron Donald, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Von Miller. Flowers signed for five years and $90 million, with $40 million fully guaranteed over the first two years.
The deal comes with an eye-popping $28.07 million signing bonus, which is spread out over five years for salary cap purposes. Flowers has a good chance of seeing at least three years and $54 million of this deal, because of the large signing bonus and the cap hits.
The Lions were not messing around. There are no per-game bonuses or offseason bonuses or incentives. They threw a giant trunk of money at Flowers, scaring off the Patriots and all other suitors.
The largest contract the Patriots have ever given to a defensive player was the five-year $65 million deal they signed with Stephon Gilmore, who got $32 million guaranteed over two years and an $18 million signing bonus.
You have to feel good for Flowers, who gets a massive payday after making a total of just $4 million in his first four NFL seasons combined. And you can’t blame the Patriots for not wanting to go to those unprecedented heights to pay a good, but not great, defensive player.
■ Brown’s four-year deal with the Raiders maxes out at $66 million. But it’s really a two-year deal with $36.25 million fully guaranteed, then two years and $29 million with no guarantees. Brown didn’t receive a signing bonus, which means the Raiders can release him with no cap penalty after the second year.
But the guarantee is a record for offensive linemen, topping the $34.8 million Nate Solder got last year. Brown will make $15.25 million this year, then a whopping $21.25 million next year, smartly pushing a lot of the money into 2020, when the Raiders will be playing in Nevada, where there is no state income tax.
The Patriots have a hole at left tackle, but I understand why they wouldn’t match this deal.
■ Amendola’s one-year deal with Detroit is pretty straightforward: A $4.25 million base salary fully guaranteed, $250,000 in per-game bonuses, and $1.25 million in incentives. It’s a solid deal for Amendola, who at 33 is guaranteed to play another season, his 11th in the NFL. He’ll be an important locker room presence for Matt Patricia and could put up some decent numbers with Matt Stafford throwing him the football.
The deal also shows how little the Patriots thought of bringing Amendola back, because the Patriots easily could have spent $4.5 million plus incentives on one of Tom Brady’s trusted targets. Amendola was a clutch performer time and again for the Patriots, but they didn’t value his contributions. Amendola made $6 million total between 2015 and 2017 as the Patriots forced him to take a pay cut each year. But he made $6 million with Miami last year, and now $4.5 million with Detroit.
■ Allen, meanwhile, benefited from being released two weeks ago. He took several free agent visits before other free agents were allowed to and found a home in Miami with Brian Flores.
Allen, entering his eighth season after spending the last two with the Patriots, signed a two-year deal with the Dolphins that maxes out at $7 million. But he didn’t get much in the way of guarantees, and he’ll have to win a roster spot in training camp this year.
He could make anywhere from $1.35 million to $3.5 million this year, depending on whether he makes the team. He gets a $1.25 million roster bonus March 15, and $100,000 for attending offseason workouts. But his $1.9 million base salary has no guarantees until Week 1, at which point it becomes fully guaranteed since he is a vested veteran. He also has $250,000 in incentives. And he has an option year for 2020 with a $3.15 million salary, $100,000 workout bonus, and $250,000 in incentives.
It’s not the most lucrative deal, but Allen found a good landing spot to continue his career another year.