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Patriots Dugger Frustrated With Transition Tag

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
April 2, 2024 at 1:00 pm ET

Patriots Dugger Frustrated With Transition Tag(PHOTO: Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) is brought down by New England Patriots safety Adrian Phillips (21) and New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, during a game against the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.)

🕑 Read Time: 3 minutes

One interesting bit of news on Monday was a report by Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald, who reported that free agent safety Kyle Dugger is apparently unhappy with having been hit with the transition tag.

Callahan wrote in a piece on Sunday that, “Dugger remains dissatisfied with the transition tag, a one-year, $13.2 million placeholder that will keep him here in New England. As of late this week, he had not signed the tag.”

That led to some ire locally on 98.5 The Sports Hub, where Mark Bertrand discussed the situation with Scott Zolak, and Bertrand believes the club botched the negotiations.

“What an F-up by the team on this player and this contract given now the context of they did not do in free agency,” said Bertrand on Monday on Zolak & Bertrand. “So they had all this money to spend – and still do – and they couldn’t just get a long-term deal done with Kyle Dugger?  And if Jerod Mayo’s telling the truth, which is the priority was for them to sign their own guys back, then why did they did they not re-sign Kyle Dugger and get a deal done beyond the transition tag?”

“Because I think Dugger feels he’s worth a lot more than where they feel he’s worth,” said Zolak.

“He isn’t, the market would have dictated that,” said Bertrand.  “They misread the market.  The Patriots did, and Dugger.  They’re both wrong.”

Zolak disagreed, and in his mind, it’s just a matter of letting Dugger see if anyone truly believes he’s worth that amount.

“If there’s a team out there that values him a lot more, ink him to a contract,” said Zolak.  “Make the Patriots match it.  It’s kind of crickets out there right now.  If there’s somebody out there who feels he’s a $16 million a year safety or $18 million a year safety, give him a three-year deal for $48, $50 million with $30 guaranteed.  It’s that simple.”

Zolak then asked NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry if he’d match that deal.

“Nope,” replied Perry.  “He’s not a top-five safety in football.  He’s not Minkah Fitzpatrick or Antoine Winfield.”

Bertrand then asked, “Why couldn’t they get a deal done?”

“Because he might think, I don’t know exactly what he’s demanding, but if he thinks he’s one of those guys, and he just saw Jessie Bates sign for $16 million, or Grant Delpit is probably the closer, better example at $12 million,” said Perry.

Bertrand then continued, arguing that the club set the floor at $13.2 million.

“So, what do you think is holding it up?” asked Perry.  “It takes two to tango.  You can’t just give him whatever he wants.”

Bertrand’s argument was the fact that, as Zolak suggested, the club apparently offered him $12.5 million per season, and he believes they should come up given that they’re already paying him over $13 on the tag.

“Where’s the strategy in that?” asked Bertrand.

The problem is, it sounds like Dugger’s demands are far higher, which is likely where the impasse really is.  Given the cap space the club has, it doesn’t feel like it’s a matter of the Patriots botching the negotiations.  They’re also likely willing to come up higher than any of us are aware.

However, for things to have reached this point, it’s probably more that Dugger believes he’s done enough and established himself enough as a cornerstone piece of their defense that he wants to be paid accordingly.  And that may be a number closer to the bigger names in the NFL at his position.

So for now, they sit at an impasse.  Unfortunately, it will also leave this as something to keep an eye on over the coming weeks or months until they figure it out.

(The above appeared in this morning’s Patriots News and notes column.)

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About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


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