Aiken has snapped in every game for the Patriots over the last three seasons after being claimed on waivers from the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 4, 2011. The contract agreement puts the Patriots in position to return all three specialists (Aiken, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter/holder Ryan Allen) for the second straight year, which is often the continuity that most clubs desire.
As the Patriots’ lone restricted free agent this offseason, Aiken could have been tendered at three different levels -- $1.43 million for a right of first refusal, $2.18 million at the second-round level, and $3.11 million at the first-round level.
There was also the option that the Patriots wouldn’t tender Aiken at all, making him an unrestricted free agent; Aiken earned a base salary of $550,000 last season and it was hard to envision a scenario where the Patriots would, at the least, triple those earnings in 2014.
So the new one-year deal strikes a compromise of sorts for the team and Aiken, who adds value to special teams units with his coverage skills (5 special teams tackles in 2013).