Patriots re-sign Devin McCourty using salary cap witchcraft
One of the New England Patriots‘ free agency dominos fell on Sunday when Devin McCourty announced he was returning to Foxborough on a one-year contract.
In an adorable video on social media, McCourty delivered the news through his two children, and shortly after, it was revealed the soon-to-be 13-year veteran will earn $9 million for the 2022 season.
For a moment, Patriots fans realized that may have been a problem. They only had a shade above $10 million to spend after making a few roster moves in preparation for the new league year. So they retained one of their own and then neutered their ability to spend on the open market despite numerous holes on both sides of the ball?
Not so fast! It looks like the Patriots will be able to limit McCourty’s 2022 cap hit due to the fact this one-year deal is an extension of his existing contract. For 2022, McCourty had what was a voided year at $6.45 million.
Patriots re-sign Devin McCourty to a one-year contract
Hours before McCourty made the announcement, Patriots cap guru Miguel Benzan shrewdly revealed that signing the veteran safety could allow the team to keep the lower cap hit of $6.45 million — all thanks to that void year.
But how? SB Nation’s Field Gulls gave us some insight in an article last month:
“Void years are nothing more than fake years on the end of a contract that exist today to help with the cap, but which will cease to exist at some point in the future. They’re something like disappearing ink in that they will soon be gone.”
It’s a ploy to be more flexible and to prepare for salary cap increases/issues. Here’s a brief explanation about the Seahawks-Russell Wilson contract that included the same provisions:
“The void years were fake contract years under which Wilson was never going to play, but which gave the team the ability to shift $14,304,000 of Wilson’s 2022 cap hit into future seasons. So, with the cap set to explode upwards and teams able to push cap hits into the future at 0% interest, it certainly makes sense why some teams have become very aggressive in their use of void years to push cap hits into the future.”
Why the Patriots chose McCourty for this or used McCourty to eventually prepare for this moment … we do not know. Maybe it was because he’s nearing the end of his career and this makes it a bit easier to retain him and save some money. Nonetheless, it works out for both parties because New England isn’t getting charged the full amount on the most recent salary cap and can spread his payments out … while McCourty gets all of his money.
Just another salary cap loophole! Patriots fans will want more of those because even with McCourty’s lower cap hit, Bill Belichick has limited space to work with as voids on the offensive line, linebacking corps, wide receiver corps and secondary remain.
This is only the start.