In addition, the team has worked well behind-the-scenes on the open market. Quarterback Tom Brady restructured his contract last week to provide the Patriots with more than $7 million in extra room for the 2012 season.
Brian McIntyre reports that Brady converted $4.8 million of his base salary, as well as $6.25 million of other bonuses into a signing bonus that can be prorated over the last three years of Brady’s deal. His cap number dropped from $15.2 million to $8 million for the upcoming season, but climbed to $21.8 million for 2013 and 2014.
The Pats weren’t at all cap-strapped prior to restructuring Brady’s contract, but the decision certainly hasn’t hurt, as the team has recently loaded up on quality free agents, including guard Robert Gallery and wide receivers Donte’ Stallworth, Anthony Gonzalez and Brandon Lloyd. The Patriots also picked up Will Allen on Wednesday evening.
Allen, an 11-year veteran, spent his first ten seasons with the New York Giants (’01-’05) and Miami Dolphins (’06-’11). The 5-10, 195-pound defensive back out of Syracuse was selected 22nd overall in 2001 by the Giants. He took his talents to South Beach as an unrestricted free agent on March 20, 2006.
In 10 seasons in the NFL, Allen has started 130 of 140 contests and registered 527 tackles, 109 passes defensed, 15 interceptions, 5.0 sacks, seven forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. He missed the entire 2010 season, but comes off a solid campaign in 2011, racking up 43 tackles and three pass deflections.
New England’s latest move was made on Thursday afternoon, resigning wide receiver Deion Brach, according to ESPN’s Adam Shefter. In 10 seasons in the league, Branch has never reached 80 receptions, 1,000 yards or six scores in a single season. The 5-9, 195-pound wide out caught 51 passes for 702 yards and five scores last season.
However, he was held without a catch in three contests and cleared 50 receiving yards just five times in 2011. His overall numbers were almost identical in 2010, where he reeled in 48 receptions for 706 yards and five touchdowns. The Louisville alum spent his first four years with New England, before taking his talents to Seattle for four seasons, before of course returning to the Pats and spending the past two years with Brady and company.
Update: The Patriots have also reached a two-year agreement with fullback Spencer Larsen, according to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe. The very versatile 28-year-old fullback was with the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010 when Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the head coach in the Mile High. Over the last four years, Larsen has had 25 special teams tackles and lined up at fullback, linebacker and on special teams.
With the likes of Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Anthony Gonzalez, Donte’ Stallworth, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco (who could be headed out the door) and Deion Branch, it looks like a tough-as-nails training camp battle could be on the horizon.
With additional space available, New England could front-load a deal for another big-ticket free agent or stick to its gameplan of adding smaller pieces to compliment last year’s AFC Championship roster.