Despite Injury, Tyrone McKenzie Will Still Get A Contract

A league source explained to us this afternoon the payment procedure that will apply in the wake of linebacker Tyrone McKenzie’s season-ending injury during a rookie minicamp held less than a week after he joined the Patriots via round three of the 2009 draft.
Other than Detroit’s Matt Stafford, who signed a contract before he was picked first overall, and the undrafted free agents who sign deals as they come through the door, every rookie who participates in offseason workouts as a member of the team does so without a contract.
The players routinely choose to practice pursuant to a “letter of protection,” which promises that in the event of a season-ending injury the player still will be offered a fair contract.
McKenzie was the 97th overall selection.  Thus, he will get a deal that fits within the slot between the 96th pick (cornerback Keenan Lewis of the Steelers) and the 98th position (tight end Chase Coffman of the Bengals).
It could get dicey if Coffman signs a three-year deal and Lewis inks a four-year package, or if either player has a “split salary” that provides lower base pay in the event of a season-ending injury.  But, for the most part, it will be easy to determine the value of McKenzie’s contract, which by the bottom of round three essentially consist of a signing bonus and minimum base salaries for the duration of the deal.
Regardless of the specifics, the reality is that the Patriots will be compelled to treat McKenzie fairly.  Otherwise, agents would begin to refuse to allow unsigned rookies to participate in New England’s underwear practices, which as McKenzie has learned can be as hazardous as full-pads double-sessions.

11 responses to “Despite Injury, Tyrone McKenzie Will Still Get A Contract

  1. So even though the Patriots would probably screw him over if they could, they can’t. That’s because if the Patriots screw over McKenzie not only would the media be all over it, but any future camps with rookies unsigned wouldn’t happen. You think other rookies would be there if they saw this guy get hurt and then screwed? Obviously they’d all take the Merriman approach and hold out until they get a contract~ otherwise they could wind up injured, out of work, or with a significantly smaller contract. So for the future of post-draft mini-camps the Patriots have to give this guy a fair contract.

  2. Just another example of how the rookie system is screwed up in the NFL. With a max contract and a pay scale in place, this kid would already have a contract and would not have to depend on a “fair” contract from the Pats.

  3. This is a non issue as the Patriots have always paid money out even when they didn’t HAVE to in the past when it came to serious injuries. (Think Robert Edwards)

  4. I’m glad to see that at least some parts of the draft/signing system work. If only the NFL would change to a rookie pay scale…

  5. WOW….”Spuds McKenzie”.
    I’m still waiting to hear from him on my “beeper”.
    The yesteryear of ’88….Where has the time gone?

  6. I’m still surprised that 1st and 2nd round picks go to these camps without a contract. Hypothetically any 1st rounder, especially the top 8-10 picks, would have a lot to lose due to injury. Imagine if Stafford hadn’t signed prior to the draft and had gotten hurt like McKenzie. He would still get 1st overall pick money obviously, but 41.7 million guaranteed….I highly doubt it.

  7. kinda off topic but i wish the packers signed chase coffman, since his dad was a packer. all he needed was Ruvell Martin’s number

  8. Most of you seem to be overlooking the simple fact that the Patriots really like this guy and will want to keep him around despite the injury. Besides Chung, he is probably the best prospect they got in the draft this year and they were really hoping he might even start a few games down the road, towards the middle of the season. He’ll get a “fair” deal.

  9. Thanks for the info. It’s nice to see some part of the rookie signing/pay process work.

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