NEPD Staff Writer: Matthew Jones
Alongside wide receiver Wes Welker and offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, starting safety Patrick Chung is considered one of New England’s most valuable impending free agents.
Chung, who is set to turn 25 years old in August, has established himself as one of New England’s best defensive players since being drafted with the Patriots’ top pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. The Boston Herald recently reported that New England has yet to discuss a contract extension with Chung, but it is expected that New England would be interested in re-signing Chung before he reaches the open market.
Of course, both the team and the player must be receptive to an extension, so a middle ground will have to be reached in order for the club to lock up Chung long-term.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ front-office are notoriously resistant to overpaying for players regardless of their perceived value. So how much is New England willing to pay Chung? This article will examine recent safety contracts, assess Patrick Chung’s level of play, and review New England’s other options at the position in order to determine how much Chung is worth.
As the safety position becomes more important, often asked to cover slot receivers and tight ends increasingly often, it logically follows that teams must be willing to pay their safeties more money in order to retain them. Indeed, contracts at the position have been increasing over the past few years. In 2009, the Cardinals agreed to pay strong safety Adrian Wilson $36.5 million over five seasons, with $15.5 million guaranteed. Wilson’s contract was matched by Antrel Rolle’s free-agent deal with the New York Giants in 2010; Rolle was given a five-year, $37 million deal with $15 million in guarantees.
Three top safeties re-signed with their teams in 2011: Michael Huff with Oakland (four years, $32 million, $16 million guaranteed), Troy Polamalu with Pittsburgh (four years, $36.5 million, $10.55 million guaranteed), and Eric Weddle with San Diego (five years, $40 million, $19 million guaranteed.)
A number of other safeties also signed second-tier safety contracts worth between $20 and $30 million: Dawan Landry with Jacksonville (five years, $27.5 million, $10.5 million guaranteed), Danieal Manning with Houston (four years, $20 million, $9 million guaranteed), and Quintin Mikell with St. Louis (four years, $27 million, $14 million guaranteed.)
This past offseason, Reggie Nelson was given a four-year, $18 million contract to re-sign with the Cincinnati Bengals, although his deal contains just $2.5 million in guaranteed money. On June 19th, Titans free safety Michael Griffin signed a five-year contract extension worth an estimated $7 million per season, which would put the total value of the deal at about $35 million.
In 2013, safeties such as Tyvon Branch (Oakland), Jairus Byrd (Buffalo), Louis Delmas (Detroit), Dashon Goldson (San Francisco), Kenny Phillips (New York Giants), and Ed Reed (Baltimore) are set to hit the market alongside Chung and appear to be headed for lucrative contracts within the next year. Negotiations are currently ongoing regarding new contracts for Branch and Goldson, who are both franchise players currently under the $6.2 million tender. Goldson is reportedly seeking a contract which will pay him $8 million per season, while Branch will likely also seek a contract which pays him among the top safeties in the league.
Should Chung be re-signed – read more on page two.