There’s been plenty of analysis about which free agents the Patriots should retain this offseason, but another major piece of the puzzle will be extending players to either balance out their cap hit and/or prevent them from hitting free agency next offseason. Two players that are prime for extensions are left tackle Nate Solder and Julian Edelman.
Solder bounced back from a biceps tear in 2015 to hold down Tom Brady‘s blindside for the Super Bowl run. He didn’t have his best game against Dwight Freeney in Houston, but that doesn’t take away from the stability that Solder brought this season.
Solder’s cap hit for 2017 is due to be over $11 million dollars, a number the Pats would love to get down. Solder’s had two contracts with the Patriots, his initial rookie deal and then a two-year extension he signed in 2015 that guaranteed him $20 million.
He’ll turn 29 this April, so Solder still has plenty of good football left in him. The Patriots have already agreed not to use the franchise tag on him in 2018, so now’s a good time to take a look at a deal that would make sense for both sides. With the rest of the starting offensive line locked up for at least the next two seasons (David Andrews is a RFA next offseason), another two year extension that spreads some of his cap hit out would make sense for Solder.
Julian Edelman is entering the last year of his third contract with the Patriots. After his initial 7th-round deal that paid out a whopping $1.8 million for four years, Edelman signed a one-year, $1 million deal in 2013. That was followed by the four-year, $19 million deal he’ll wrap up this season. Considering Edelman is the Patriots all-time playoff reception leader and was a key cog making clutch (and impossible) catches in two Super Bowl runs, it makes a lot sense to give Edelman a bit of a bump.
I know the Patriots aren’t sentimental with money, but Edelman still has a couple good years in him at least, maybe more if he continues the Tom Brady health regime that has seen him finish three of the last four years with full health. Edelman will be 31 in May. The Pats parted ways with Wes Welker when he was 32 in a classic, one-year-too-early case. Time is running out, but there’s still time to fit another deal for Edelman in.
Edelman has been paid less ($14.4 million) than Danny Amendola ($15.75 million) since 2013, while doubling his production (356 catches vs. 169 catches, 20 TDs vs. 10 TDs). Not to take anything away from Amendola, he’s had his fair share of clutch catches that were vital to the Super Bowl titles as well, but are the Pats prepared to encase him in carbonite for another season, just to save him for the playoffs?
Amendola has restructured his deal the last two offseasons and is in line to do it again this year, if he’s not cut outright.
- 2013 – Five years, $31 million
- 2015 – Three years, $12.75 million
- 2016 – Two years, $8.1 million
Miguel Benzan of PatsCap.com suggested to me that a new deal for Edelman could feature a bump from $4.5 million APY up to $7-8 million APY.
Maybe the best thing to do is finally move on from Amendola, and put some of the $6.5 million in cap savings it would bring toward a new two-year extension through 2018 for Edelman. The last year could be a dummy year, but the Pats have the cap space this season and next to give Edelman a much-deserved pay bump that serves as a bit of a “thanks” for all the awesomeness of the past four seasons.