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Contracts are the other area in which the Patriots are breaking free of their 1980s-like chains.
This is the third contract the Patriots have renegotiated early in the past eight months, following linebacker Jerod Mayo and Gronkowski.
Mayo’s extension didn’t seem to be anything new for the team, since it had already redone his deal in March of 2010. Mayo seemed to be the “Do we have extra cap space? OK, let’s use it on our guy,” that almost every team has.
With Gronkowski, you weren’t quite sure because his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had done some curious team-friendly extensions while rumors persisted that he was in trouble financially. That has been alleged in subsequent reports from Yahoo! Sports, but Rosenhaus did a good deal that benefited Gronkowski and the team.
But now, after Hernandez’s deal, we can officially say the Patriots have moved into the 21st century as far as salary-cap management. Their propensity to take players to the end of their deals, then engage in verbal combat when it came time for a new one, not only dragged on the players but it kept the Patriots from using all the possible advantages under a salary cap.
It long has been one of the most glaring, perplexing weaknesses of an organization that is so far ahead of everyone else in just about every other area.
It’s simple. You identify core young players who are low risk from busting after getting paid.
Go to them two or three years early, and in exchange for paying them well before the end of their contract, the team saves millions in future salary cap charges.
It’s the definition of win-win. There was no excuse why the Patriots didn’t do it with guard Logan Mankins. And it sure looks like the team learned a lesson from that very contentious negotiation, and has made a wise correction.
Emotion and forward-thinking cap economics?
Whoever that team is masquerading as the Patriots, they have evolved, and they stand to be even better for it.