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Sione Takitaki could become a bang-for-the-buck investment for the Patriots

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By: Bernd Buchmasser

Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

New England signed the veteran linebacker to a two-year contract in free agency.

Despite a lack of household names, the New England Patriots’ linebacker group had a productive 2023 season. With one of its top three headed out the door, however, the need for improved depth was obvious. And so, in an effort to replace Mack Wilson after his departure to the Arizona Cardinals, the team signed former Cleveland Browns defender Sione Takitaki.

Takitaki, who was one of the better coverage linebackers in football last year, put his signature under a two-year contract with a base value of $6.645 million including $3.13 million in full guarantees. The deal is reflective of what his role will be in 2024: he will factor into the mix as a third option alongside Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai.

Sione Takitaki: Contract details

Base salary: $1.125 million*
Signing bonus: $1 million*
Roster bonus (LTBE/NLTBE): $510,000
Workout bonus (LTBE): $150,000
Incentives (NLTBE): $1.8 million
Salary cap hit: $3.355 million

Base salary: $2.2 million
Signing bonus: $1 million*
Roster bonus (LTBE): $510,000
Workout bonus (LTBE): $150,000
Incentives (NLTBE): $1.8 million
Salary cap hit: $3.86 million

*fully guaranteed

A look at his contract shows that Takitaki is very much guaranteed a spot on the roster for the 2024 season, while his outlook for 2025 is less certain. That said, the Patriots are seemingly expecting him to become a regular contributor on defense and in the kicking game at what is currently the 16th-highest salary cap impact on the team this season.

That $3.355 million cap number consists of a fully-guaranteed $1.125 million salary and $1 million signing bonus proration, as well as roster and workout bonuses of $510,000 and $150,000, respectively. Not all of that is currently counted against New England’s cap, though: with Takitaki missing one game in 2023 due to a hamstring injury, one 17th of those roster bonuses at a cost of $30,000 per game is considered not likely to be earned (NLTBE).

If we compare Takitaki’s deal to the one Mack Wilson signed in Arizona, we can see that the new Patriots defender is cheaper: his average annual value of $3.32 million over two years is less than Wilson’s $4.25 million over three. The two players’ difference in age — Wilson is 26, Takitaki will be 29 in June — appears to be one primary reason behind that.

Whether one of those two investments turns out to be the better one remains to be seen. For the Patriots, however, Takitaki could become one of their better bang-for-the-buck investments this free agency: if he continues to perform well, especially in coverage, the team should feel good about bringing him aboard at $3.32 million per year.

Originally posted on Pats Pulpit