Patriots add depth to offensive line with deal for Jared Veldheer
The Patriots are signing an important insurance piece for their offensive line, agreeing to a one-year, $6.5 million maximum deal with veteran offensive lineman Jared Veldheer, a league source confirmed to the Globe.
The deal has a base value of $3.5 million ($1.25 million fully guaranteed), and Veldheer can earn $3 million in playing-time incentives.
Veldheer, 31, is a nine-year veteran with stints in Oakland, Arizona, and Denver, and provides key depth at both tackle spots after left tackle Trent Brown departed in free agency. Veldheer will likely push Isaiah Wynn, last year’s first-round pick, for the starting left tackle job, or would be the first backup for Wynn and right tackle Marcus Cannon.
The Patriots have Wynn ready to step in at left tackle, but Wynn missed his entire rookie season with a torn Achilles’ tendon, and has yet to play an NFL snap.
Veldheer, a massive tackle listed at 6 feet 8 inches and 321 pounds, has started 113 games in nine seasons, with experience on both sides of the line. He played left tackle early in his career for the Raiders and Cardinals, and last year started 12 games at right tackle for the Broncos.
The Patriots also have third-round pick Yodny Cajuste, third-year practice squad veteran Cole Croston, and a handful of street free agents and undrafted rookies at offensive tackle.
Veldheer’s deal includes a $750,000 signing bonus, $1.5 million base salary ($500,000 fully guaranteed), $1.25 million in per-game roster bonuses, and $3 million in playing-time incentives ($750,000 each for 66 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent, and 85 percent of snaps).
Veldheer’s salary cap number will be $3.5 million. All of his incentives are considered “not likely to be earned” for cap reasons, since he played in 65.55 percent of snaps last year.
Veldheer visited Foxborough last week, but the Patriots are holding off on signing him until Wednesday, as it is the first day that veteran free agent signings no longer count toward the NFL’s compensatory pick formula.
The Patriots are expected to pick up two extra third-round picks next year for losing Brown and Trey Flowers in free agency.