Brandon King's extension highlights challenging dynamic for restricted FAs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have signed core special-teams player Brandon King to a two-year, $2.6 million extension through the 2019 season, which is a deal that highlights how King chose stability and security over possibly making more money by playing things out as a restricted free agent this offseason.

Here are the details of the contract:

Signing bonus: $400,000


Base salary: $775,000

Roster bonus: $250,000 ($15,625 per game)

Salary cap charge: $1.17 million


Base salary: $925,000

Roster bonus: $250,000 ($15,625 per game)

Salary cap charge: $1.375 million

Had King not signed the contract, the Patriots would have either tendered him as a restricted free agent (the lowest level is projected at $1.9 million) or simply not placed a tender on him (which would make him an unrestricted free agent).

If King and his agent Sean Stellato believed the low tender wasn't a likely option, and King's preference was to stay with the team, this type of extension makes sense because there is now a good chance that King -- who tied for second on the club with eight special-teams tackles last season -- will be with the Patriots over the next two years.

But in taking that approach, King sacrifices the chance to be an unrestricted free agent earlier than he would have been; when he could have potentially earned a richer contract in an open-market setting.

These can be challenging decisions to make for players in King's position.

Reserve offensive tackle Cameron Fleming is a notable recent example of this dynamic playing out.

Last year at this time, Fleming was in the same spot as King as a restricted free agent. He could have signed a two-year extension like King, but instead elected to play on a low restricted free-agent tender of $1.797 million for 2017. That was a risk because the Patriots could have released him before the start of the 2017 season (with Fleming not receiving his salary), but Fleming bet on himself that it wouldn't happen and that he would make it through the season healthy.

It turned out to be a shrewd decision, as Fleming is now set to hit the unrestricted free-agent market on Wednesday and could see a significant increase in salary.

Fleming and King obviously play different positions, and what's right for one player isn't necessarily right for another player. It just highlights the different approaches that restricted free agents can take.