Having been selected 15th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, what is the value of Mac Jones’ NFL contract, and how does he impact the Patriots’ salary cap? Let’s take a look at the contract details, his salary cap numbers over the coming years, and the Patriots’ options with Jones.
The numbers in this article are based on an estimate using Jerry Jeudy’s contract from the 2020 NFL Draft. The numbers will be updated to reflect the true values once the contract is signed.
Mac Jones’ contract details and bonuses
Following the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, the value of Jones’ deal, along with all other rookie contracts, was assigned based on his draft position. The value of the contract was set at a fully guaranteed $15.6 million on a four-year deal with a fifth-year team option. The fifth-year option is not accounted for in the $15.6 million. Instead, it’s based on Jones’ performances in his first three years in the league.
Jones’ contract specifics are expected to include a signing bonus of just under $8.7 million with around $7 million in salary. All of that money is guaranteed, assuming Jones does nothing that would warrant the contract being voided.
What impact does Jones’ deal have on the Patriots’ salary cap?
While Jones will receive around $9.5 million in cash as a rookie, his salary cap number is significantly different.
Jones’ $8.7 million signing bonus will prorate across the four years of his contract at just under $2.2 million per year. That $2.2 million combines with Jones’ salary for each year to determine his salary cap number.
In 2021, Jones is expected to count for around $2.8 million in salary cap space. That number rises to approximately $3.5 million in 2022, $4.2 million in 2023, and $5 million in 2024.
What options do the Patriots have with Jones’ contract?
The structure of rookie contracts somewhat limits the Patriots’ options with Jones. As mentioned above, the deal is fully guaranteed. Therefore, even if the Patriots want to release Jones, they will not save any part of the $15.6 million.
The only exception would be if Jones were to violate the team or league code of conduct. If that were to occur, the team could void the remaining guaranteed money and reclaim some signing bonuses.
If the Patriots decide to move on from Jones during his contract, the prorated signing bonus will accelerate onto their cap. That would happen in the season they released him or split between the next two seasons if conducted after June 1. If the Patriots cut Jones ahead of 2022, they would have approximately $12.5 million in dead money. That would drop to around $9.2 million in 2023 and $5 million in 2024.
When is Jones eligible for an extension?
The Patriots and Jones cannot agree to a contract extension until after Jones’ third year in the NFL. Thus, Jones will be eligible for an extension after the conclusion of the 2023 season. That 2024 offseason will be an intriguing one for Jones and the 2021 NFL Draft class. It is when the Patriots will have to decide on exercising Jones’ fifth-year option.
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Ben Rolfe is a content director at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.