Linebackers – As of now, the Patriots have seven linebackers (Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chris White, Steve Beauharnais, Taylor Reed and Ja’Gared Davis) signed for the 2014 season. Their respective cap numbers are $7,287,500, $2,106,546, $854,773, $645,000, $506,898, $420,000Â and $420,000.
Mayo has a $300,000 NTLBE Pro Bowl incentive plus $31,250 per active game roster bonuses. Since Mayo played in 6 games in 2013, his LTBE roster amount is $31,250 times 6, or $187,500. I expect the Pats to leave themselves a cushion in the 600K neighborhood in the anticipation that Mayo will once again play 16 games and reach the Pro Bowl.
The Patriots hold a fifth year option on Dont’a Hightower that will be worth the average value of the 3rd through 25th highest cap numbers at the linebacker position in 2014. That option must be picked up before May 4, 2015. The option is guaranteed for injury and becomes fully guaranteed if Hightower is on the Patriots roster at the start of the 2016 league year. Right now, I project that the option amount to be $8.5 million but expect the number to be changed as deals with linebackers are made during the 2014 league year. The first day that the Patriots can extend Dont’a Hightower is the day after the 2014 regular season ends. It will be interesting to see if Hightower will improve his play so that he will be worth his option amount.
Per the CBA, Jamie Collins’ rookie contract can not be changed until after the 2015 regular season ends. Both Collins and Hightower will become UFAs in 2017.
Brandon Spikes will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2014 League Year. I could not find a true comparable to Spikes. My guesstimate of his worth is 4-years, $16 million. I do not see Spikes returning to the Patriots in 2014.
My guess is that Fletcher signs a modest 3-year deal with the Patriots at around $800,000 a year or a one-year deal at $645K with incentives.