Kelly was set to earn $2.5 million in his contract -- $1.95 million in base salary, a $50,000 workout bonus and $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses.
As part of the restructured pact, it now breaks down this way:
Signing bonus: $100,000
Base salary: $955,000
Roster bonuses: $800,000 ($50K per game he's on the 46-man active list)
Total value: $1.85 million
The deal also includes the following playing-time incentives:
20 percent -- $95,000
30 percent -- $195,000
40 percent -- $345,000
50 percent -- $495,000
60 percent -- $645,000
(The maximum Kelly can earn in playing-time incentives is $645,000. Thus, the maximum value of the new contract is still $2.5 million.)
The Patriots recently approached Wilfork about altering the final year of his contract, in which he's scheduled to earn $7.5 million and count $11.6 million against the salary cap. When a team usually approaches a player about his contract, it often means the team is looking for some type of concession.
Today's news, which comes on the heels of the Patriots signing cornerback Darrelle Revis to what is essentially a one-year, $12 million contract, seems to reflect how Wilfork feels about that.
Let's put ourselves in the shoes of each side and dissect things:
NFL Network, citing sources, first reported Wilfork was seeking his release.
Wilfork is in the final year of his contract and was scheduled to earn a base salary of $7.5 million and count $11.6 million against the salary cap. Sources previously told ESPNBoston.com that the Patriots recently approached Wilfork about altering his contract.
Wilfork, a team captain who joined the Patriots as a first-round draft choice in 2004, was limited to four games last season because of a torn Achilles.
The 32-year-old is a five-time Pro Bowler and has been one of the NFL's premier run-stuffers, displaying uncommon athleticism for a player his size (6-foot-2, 325 pounds).
He's also been a fixture in the area, earning the team's community service award in 2010.
1. Accountability in focus as it relates to past projections with Darrelle Revis.
2. Revis ... Revis ... and more Revis.
3. Thoughts on some of the free agents the Patriots had in for visits -- linebacker Wesley Woodyard and receivers Brandon LaFell and Jason Avant.
4. Julian Edelman and his free-agent status.
5. Looking ahead to where the Patriots might focus on improvements on the roster.
1. After going with Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro at No. 29 in each of his first two mocks, Kiper now has Amaro out of the first round.
2. Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III, who was viewed as a mid-round possibility in earlier mocks, also has slipped out of the top 32.
This time around, Kiper slots Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman to the Patriots at No. 29, and it has been a popular pick in various mock drafts. Hageman could give the Patriots a high-upside prospect with an ideal physical makeup at the position. Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, Armond Armstead and Chris Jones top the current depth chart, so Hageman would likely have the luxury of time to develop.
While Hageman could be a solid pick, I'm also curious about the fall of Nix and if he might represent the better pick in that scenario. He's a big run-stuffer who is a good athlete for his size. In a league that trends toward the pass, might Nix be a potentially undervalued asset who could be a solid selection at No. 29?
It has widely been reported as a one-year, $12 million deal, which is accurate. Revis will earn $12 million this season.
But for salary-cap accounting purposes, and to protect Revis from being assigned the franchise tag in 2015, the sides have added a second year to the pact in 2015 that would pay Revis $20 million and count $25 million against the salary cap.
The $20 million is an astronomical figure, as is the $25 million cap charge. That makes it unlikely the Patriots would pay it, thus making Revis an unrestricted free agent in 2015 or one of the highest-paid players in football.
The second year helps the Patriots spread out the salary-cap charges for Revis over two seasons instead of taking one $12 million salary-cap hit in 2014. Revis' cap charge for 2014 is now $7 million.
Here is a breakdown of the deal for those into specifics:
Cap value: $7M
Cash value: $12M
Signing bonus: $10M
Roster bonus: $500K ($33.33K per game if on 46-man roster up to 15 games)
Base salary: $1.5M
Cap value: $25M
Cash value: $20M
Roster bonus-1: $12M (earned on April 1, 2015, if club exercises option prior to end of 2014 league year)
Roster bonus-2: $500,000 ($33.33K per game if on 46-man roster up to 15 games)
Base salary: $7.5M
With Kiper's third mock draft set to be released Thursday, it's a good time to revisit team needs, and tight end remains on the radar.
Veteran Michael Hoomanawanui is returning to the Patriots on a two-year deal, giving the Patriots three layers on the depth chart -- Rob Gronkowski, Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams. Another "move" tight end would be ideal, and that is the category in which Amaro would fall.
The only position I think we could decisively rule out in the first round at this point is quarterback.
Everything else is in play, with both 2014 and future years in mind, and that's generally the way the Patriots like it. They prefer not to have their hand forced as it was, to some degree, at receiver last year.
From a general sense, one reminder that we've seen this year in free agency is that some of the biggest-money deals are along the defensive line. So if the right defensive lineman falls to the Patriots at No. 29, it wouldn't be surprising if the Patriots target that spot as well -- drafting and developing at the position is generally good business.
At this point, though, it's a blank canvas, with the Patriots owning one pick in each of the first four rounds, two in Round 6 and one in Round 7.
The fifth-rounder was shipped to the Eagles in the Isaac Sopoaga trade.
There's the New England Patriots ... and then there's everyone else.
With a few exceptions, that has been the makeup of the AFC East since 2001, when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won their first division title -- and Super Bowl -- for New England. Even when the Patriots lose, they win. One day after free-agent cornerback Aqib Talib left for Denver, New England replaced him with perennial Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis.
Belichick will turn 62 next month and Brady turns 37 in August. Both are closer to the end of their careers, so is it realistic to expect the Patriots to decline soon? The Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and New York Jets are all surely hoping so, as recent history has been that they need to get past the Patriots to make a playoff run.
The AFC East hasn't produced a wild-card playoff team since 2010, when the Jets went on the road to upset the Patriots and punch their ticket to the AFC Championship Game. The Jets' success was short-lived, and they've since been cast back into the pack with the Bills and Dolphins.
Overall, this is a young division. All four teams, including the Patriots, were among the youngest in the AFC at the start of last season. That youth shows up most at quarterback, where Ryan Tannehill, Geno Smith and EJ Manuel are all green and looking to prove their worth in the NFL. Their teams' ability to challenge the Patriots might hang in the balance.
The four writers who cover the division -- Rich Cimini in New York, Mike Reiss in New England, Mike Rodak in Buffalo and James Walker in Miami -- offered their insights on the power structure in the AFC East and some other some key offseason topics. They also polled their Twitter followers to find out if they saw the issues differently.
Which AFC East team is closest to catching the Patriots?
Rich Cimini: The Jets, no question about it. The Jets, Bills and Dolphins are three teams with question marks at quarterback -- and quarterback play is everything in the NFL. So why the Jets? When rating teams, I like to look at which ones can be dominant on at least one side of the ball. Clearly, the defenses of the Bills and Jets (ranked 10th and 11th, respectively) are the best units among the three Patriots-chasing teams. Beyond the stats, I'd give an edge to the Jets because their defensive line has a chance to be the most dominant position group in the division. And the Bills lost their best defensive player, safety Jairus Byrd. Another reason I'd pick the Jets is the coaching staff. Granted, Rex Ryan has missed the playoffs for three straight years, but he has a veteran staff that experienced little upheaval. Continuity is important. The Bills have a new defensive coordinator and the Dolphins ... well, that situation is dysfunctional.
Mike Rodak: The Patriots hardly tore through the division last season, losing to the Dolphins and Jets on the road, while nearly dropping their season opener in Buffalo. But it's difficult to see the other three teams contending for a division title until their quarterbacks emerge as quality NFL starters. In Miami, Ryan Tannehill showed flashes last season. It's hard to predict much of anything season to season in the NFL, but I think the Dolphins are the closest to contending. The Jets and Bills are not that far behind.
James Walker: My short answer is no AFC East team is ready to catch the Patriots in 2014. As long as Tom Brady is healthy and Bill Belichick is coaching, the Patriots will be the favorites to win the division. But the team with the smallest gap is the Dolphins. They have the most talented roster to challenge New England and the second-best quarterback in the division in Ryan Tannehill. Miami's problem is it can't stay out of its own way with infighting and in-house controversy. Last year, there was the bullying scandal and coach Joe Philbin had a falling out with former general manager Jeff Ireland. Miami still split with the Patriots, mostly because of talent. But how can the Dolphins win consistently when they're fighting themselves?
How justified is the AFC East's reputation as a weak division?
Cimini: I hate to say it, but it's justified. The division doesn't have much street cred these days. The Jets helped the cause with their little run there in 2009 and 2010, when Ryan was in his "I'm not kissing Belichick's rings" phase, but the AFC East has turned into a bottom-heavy division. Since 2011, the Jets are 22-26, the Dolphins are 21-27 and the Bills are 18-30. In that span, the teams not named the Patriots have combined for a grand total of zero playoff appearances. The Bills haven't made the playoffs since 1999, which is practically prehistoric. The Dolphins haven't made it since 2008. Records aside, the division lacks star power, save for Brady, Belichick & Co. Each team has a handful of good players, but we're not talking about guys with a lot of box-office appeal. Everything is cyclical in the NFL, so I'm sure things will swing the other way. But right now, the AFC East is in a state of depression -- except for the Patriots.
Rodak: Strength of divisions is always difficult to measure because it changes so often. The NFC West was considered a weak division for several years, but recently it has been the class of the NFL. The Seahawks groomed their young talent into a perennial playoff team, while the 49ers found a coach (Jim Harbaugh) who has brought his team to three consecutive NFC title games. They're a far cry from the Seahawks, but the Bills and Jets both had some of the NFL's youngest rosters last season. Let's see if those teams can make the next step before we label the AFC East as "weak." Plus, how many other divisions have a team that has been as dominant as the Patriots? That adds strength at the top of the division while making life tougher for everyone else.
Walker: Absolutely, the reputation is justified. I cannot think of another NFL division that was mostly owned by one team over the past dozen years. I've said since last summer that the 2013 Patriots were the weakest New England team in years. That Patriots group still won the AFC East by four games! That is more of an indication of poor football by the Jets, Dolphins and Bills than dominant football by New England. Here is all you need to know about the AFC East: No team other than New England has posted a winning record the past three seasons.
Ryan Tannehill, Geno Smith and EJ Manuel: Which young QB will still be his team's starter in three years?
Cimini: I'll be blunt: I'm not confident that any of the three young quarterbacks will be starting in three years. They all have talent, but each one was thrown into a difficult situation. Smith and Manuel were rushed into starting jobs, and Tannehill was under siege last season, behind the worst (and most dysfunctional) offensive line in the league. Out of this group, I'd say Tannehill probably has the most staying power. I'm not saying he will be a star, because I've seen him throw passes that conjure up images of Nuke LaLoosh of "Bull Durham" fame, but he has a decent amount of talent and moxie. That said, Tannehill has a new coordinator, and he could have another one next year if the Dolphins decide to blow up the coaching staff. The same could happen to Smith next year if things go sideways on the Jets. Continuity is vital for a young quarterback. So is the quality of his supporting cast. Smith could overtake Tannehill in this category if the Jets surround him with better players. That, undoubtedly, would accelerate his growth.
Rodak: The Bills, Dolphins and Jets have dealt with inconsistent quarterback play for the past decade. Of those three teams, only the Jets with Chad Pennington had a starter for more than three consecutive seasons since 2000. Three years is a very long time in the NFL -- enough time for young quarterbacks to see their stars rise and fall. Smith, Tannehill and Manuel were all high draft picks and have the potential to be long-term starters. Of the three, I think Smith is least likely to stick. Playing in New York can be tough, while the Jets' coaching situation remains volatile. The Bills might have the most stable environment for Manuel to grow, but his knee injuries are a concern. Tannehill has shown promise in Miami, but changes in the front office might bring different opinions. This might be radical, but I don't see any of the three quarterbacks starting in three years.
Walker: My first response hinted at my answer: I'm going with Tannehill, though the instability of the Dolphins' organization gives me pause. Joe Philbin might not be Miami's head coach in 2015, let alone in three years. That obviously impacts Tannehill's job security. However, I think Tannehill has the most pure talent of the three young quarterbacks. Tannehill set career highs in yards (3,913), touchdowns (24) and passer rating (81.7) last season. He also was sacked a franchise-record 58 times last season and had little help from the running game. I believe Tannehill can thrive with good pass protection and a stronger running game. He needs to work on his deep ball and make quicker decisions, but that might improve with time.
The Dolphins, Bills and Patriots each experienced noteworthy changes to their coaching staff. Which will have the greatest impact?
Cimini: The Patriots lost a beloved assistant coach, Dante Scarnecchia, but let's be honest: As long as Bill Belichick is the HC of the NEP, the Patriots will be a highly competitive team. Assistants and coordinators come and go, but the Patriots remain the Patriots because of one man. I think the Bills' coaching change -- Jim Schwartz as the new defensive coordinator -- will have the greatest impact in the division. True, the Bills took a big jump last season under the departed Mike Pettine, but they still stunk against the run. Schwartz will fix that. The Dolphins' new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, has a chance to make a big impact, but it won't happen right away. Why not? Because the Dolphins' offensive line is in shambles (maybe you heard about the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin mess), and no offensive genius has invented a scheme that works without efficient line play. They addressed it in free agency by signing Branden Albert, but there will be growing pains for the offense.
Rodak: I think the Patriots' changes are the least likely to have an impact given Bill Belichick's reputation to wield nearly absolute control. Assistant coaches come and go in New England, but Belichick keeps his staff small and his message consistent, so there typically isn't much change. It's a toss-up, then, between the Dolphins and Bills. The Bills have seen significant changes on their defensive coaching staff, but their personnel doesn't figure to change dramatically. The Dolphins have a new offensive coordinator, and while their skill positions could remain intact, their offensive line will be different next season. That, coupled with the need for a culture change after their bullying scandal last season, means the Dolphins' coaches have more to overcome this season.
Walker: I really like the addition of Jim Schwartz in Buffalo, and it goes beyond X's and O's. Schwartz brings head-coaching experience to Buffalo's coaching staff. Bills head coach Doug Marrone is entering his second year after a 6-10 record in 2013. There were some things last year that appeared a little too fast for him as a rookie head coach in the NFL -- and that's expected. Schwartz can help slow things down in Year 2 for Marrone, who is trying to make the transition from the college game. Schwartz experienced plenty of ups and downs with the Detroit Lions and can be a shoulder for Marrone to lean on. Mike Pettine also was a solid defensive coordinator, but he couldn't bring that element to Buffalo's staff.
@mikerodak Sherman for Lazor better have a huge gain or heads will roll in Miami- Rob (@420wong) March 11, 2014
The New England Patriots employ a unique grading scale that tops out at 9.0. A player, whether a draft prospect or free agent, receives a 9.0 mark when the team projects him to have uncommon production near a Hall of Fame level. The adjective synonym for a 9.0 is "rare." On Wednesday night, less than 24 hours after seeing their top free agent sign with their top conference rival (cornerback Aqib Talib to Denver), the Patriots added a rare chip.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis isn't just the best player at his position in football -- given the premium of cornerbacks and the multitude of ways he can be used within a defense -- but he is arguably the best defensive player in football. Signing him to a one-year, $12 million deal is an impact arrangement. What makes Revis so good? And what will his impact be on the Patriots' defense from a performance and schematic standpoint? Let's take a look at each question individually.
Revis' skill set
What makes Revis such a terrific player? There's a lot to it. He has exceptional reactive athleticism that allows him to match and mirror opposing wide receivers in man coverage. He has the hip fluidity to adjust to routes while keeping leverage, all the while maintaining vision of the quarterback's progression. He has good size (5-foot-11, 198 pounds) and long arms to extend and press at the line of scrimmage. Revis possesses a standout ability to jam opposing wideouts and stay square at the snap, without opening the gate to let receivers run free.
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1. Another twist for Patriots-Jets rivalry. Rich Cimini, who covers the Jets for ESPN.com, looks at the move through the lens of the Patriots-Jets rivalry which "took another crazy turn Wednesday night with the news that Revis Island is moving to the Bay State."
2. Nightmare scenario for Jets. Gary Myers of the New York Daily News echoes Cimini's thoughts in writing the Jets' "ultimate nightmare has become reality: Revis Island is relocating to New England."
3. Jets smart to stay away. Bob Glauber of Newsday says a one-year, $12 million deal is a good one for the Patriots, but the Jets were smart to stay away.
4. Sides betting on each other. Award-winning national sports columnist Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! weaves it all together and highlights the unique dynamics in play as the Patriots and Revis have come together.
5. Upgrade for the Patriots. Greg Bedard of TheMMQB.com dissects the agreement against what the Patriots lost in Aqib Talib. "It’s hard to fault the Patriots for taking Revis over Talib, even at a higher salary. Revis is clearly better and much cleaner off the field. Now two years removed from ACL reconstruction, Revis is in top form," he writes.
6. High marks for Patriots. Pete Prisco, national football columnist for CBSSports.com, gives the move an "A" grade. "It's a great move for New England, which is in need of a cover corner after losing Aqib Talib to Denver. It's a $12 million deal for the one season, a nice deal for both. It works. It's a good rental."
7. Expensive but necessary. Doug Farrar of SI.com hands out a "B" grade in noting the move was a necessary one for New England, and an expensive one.
8. Deion Branch chimes in. With Deion Branch on the set, NFL Network discusses the Patriots-Revis marriage on “NFL Total Access” by asking the question: “Does the one-year deal work better for New England or Revis?”
9. Coverage options increase. Brent Sobleski of USAToday.com uses the Twitter machine to gather a variety of opinions on the agreement, adding: "Revis is far more consistent and will be able to lock up the opposing team’s top receiver, while the Patriots can roll coverage to the other side of the field."
Browner, who is suspended for the first four games of the 2014 regular season after sitting out the final five games of last season for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy, is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds.
The 29-year old had a roundabout route to the NFL, originally signing with the Broncos as an undrafted free agent in 2005 before playing multiple years in the Canadian Football League. He signed with the Seahawks in 2011 and was named to the Pro Bowl that season.
He is regarded as one of the most physical and aggressive cornerbacks in the league.
In 2013, Browner played in eight games, starting all of them and recording 19 tackles and one interception.
The Patriots have been busy on the cornerback front of late, adding Darrelle Revis on Wednesday night, according to a report by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Beyond Revis, the team's cornerback depth chart is led by Alfonzo Dennard, Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington.
Fox 25 originally reported the visit.
It is sometimes said that how a football team handles sudden change defines its greatness. The complexion of a game can swing on one play unless a group of poised and mentally tough players is able to overcome it.
That has been one of the hallmarks of the New England Patriots' on-field success in Bill Belichick's 15-year tenure as head coach, and as we've seen in a 20-hour span from late Tuesday night into Wednesday night, sudden change extends to free agency as well.
The Patriots masterfully aced the test in this area.
When considering how the team and cornerback Darrelle Revis came together on a one-year, $12 million deal, it is tempting to think Belichick had this one up his hoodie sleeve all along. He has, after all, shown a knack for thinking a few steps ahead of the opposition over the years.
But that's too simple of an explanation and overlooks how many things had to fall into place for Revis-to-the-Patriots to come to fruition. Truly, this was a case of all the stars aligning to produce an unprecedented opportunity to land one of the NFL's premier defensive players.
Consider that ...
Another team had to blow away free agent cornerback Aqib Talib with an offer because the Patriots planned to be competitive to retain him within what they felt was reasonable. The Denver Broncos went above and beyond.
Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, under a new general manager/head coaching regime, had to come to the conclusion that Revis wasn't going to be on their roster.
That was just the first step.
Following the news that Darrelle Revis has signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the New England Patriots, Insider asked four of its experts to weigh in on whether there is any downside for the Pats, whether the terms of the contract were surprising, and if Revis' addition makes New England the favorite in the AFC.
Is there any downside to this deal for the Patriots?
Matt Williamson: If there is, I don't see it. This is a great player in the prime of his career who makes everyone around him better. Revis is a true lockdown cover man that more or less eliminates the opposing offense's top receiver. That is a tremendous tactical advantage, and Bill Belichick will know exactly how to exploit it. Logan Ryan or Alfonzo Dennard will get a ton of over-the-top help from Devin McCourty, who is one of the best in the business at doing exactly that. Plus, expect a lot more blitzing from Belichick now.
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