By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Joe Banner must think David Andrews should have signed with Jacksonville.
The Patriots center has reportedly agreed to a three-year extension worth up to $11 million (base of $9 million) with the Patriots, keeping him signed in New England through the 2020 season. Banner, former Browns CEO and Eagles president, apparently believes that Andrews and his agent got suckered into a deal that was too team-friendly.
Banner fired off a tweet on Friday decrying the deal, calling it “an absolutely horrible contract for this player.” His wording suggested that he was criticizing the Patriots, but he later clarified (rather condescendingly) that he was actually criticizing Andrews and his agent for ostensibly not getting as much money as they could have gotten.
If you recall, Banner previously criticized Belichick for the Eric Rowe trade, suggesting the head coach got “fooled” with the deal. (Spoiler alert: he didn’t.) Also, when he referred to Andrews as “this player,” he implied that the center was just another guy and not worth the money. It’s understandable that some confusion would follow with his tweet; no need for the condescending tone from Banner here.
As for the deal itself, is it really that bad for Andrews? Is Banner arguing that Andrews is worth top-10 center money? Is anyone arguing that Andrews is as talented as the Cowboys’ Travis Frederick ($13.2 million cap hit), the Falcons’ Alex Mack ($10.8 million), or the Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey ($10.5 million)?
Andrews isn’t necessarily being rewarded for his pedigree or physical attributes. He’s being rewarded because he’s smart, durable, and dependable. He does his job, helps run the Patriots offense smoothly, and rarely makes mistakes. His contract may be relatively team-friendly, but “horrible” is certainly a stretch. How many undrafted free agents make $11 million in their entire careers?
Not to mention, Andrews was likely going to be paid just under $3 million on a second-round RFA tender in 2018 anyway. So he’s actually getting an early payday, at a slight raise, for the 2018 season. He can still become an unrestricted free agent at age 28 after 2020. Perhaps he could have really cashed in if he decided to become a UFA in 2019, but he took a good deal for the Patriots to have a chance to keep playing with the G.O.A.T.. How stupid of him.
Let’s assume that Andrews makes all $11 million of his extension, which kicks in starting in 2018. That would make it a $3.67 million annual cap hit. That puts him on track to have the 11th-highest cap hit in the NFL at the center position in 2018, according to Spotrac.
If you believe Andrews is a top-10 center in the league, then you may be onto something if you argue he’s being underpaid. But when you dig into the numbers of other centers around the league, the deal seems perfectly reasonable.
As a member of the media, Banner seems to be just another talking head who likes to take shots at the Patriots or their players when he sees the opportunity. Instead of congratulating Andrews on grabbing a nice chunk of change and some job security, he basically called him and his agent a couple of fools.
But remember, this is the same man who called Belichick of all people a ‘fool’ when he traded for a cornerback that at times covered Julio Jones in the Super Bowl. And he did it reasonably effectively, too.
Technically, Patriots fans want Banner to actually be right about this. You’re going to want Andrews to ultimately out-perform his contract, especially when compared to his peers around the league. But on the surface, there was really no need for him to chirp Andrews for getting himself a payday.
And for an undersized former UDFA, playing a volatile position with a relatively short shelf life, Andrews’ payday is far from “horrible.”
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.