The Patriots usually trade for players in the final year of their contracts. This time, they shipped out a player starting the final year of his rookie deal. And they got one who could be entering the final year of his, depending on what the Patriots do next.
For Jones, he has a rookie deal that shoots from $1.5 million to $7.799 million in the option year, which the Patriots exercised in 2015. The Cardinals will have a year to decide whether to extend the deal or let Jones hit the market next March.
The Patriots have a decision to make even more quickly on Cooper. By May 3, they must exercise (or not) Cooper’s 2017 option. Because Cooper was picked in the top 10 of the 2013 draft, his option salary for 2017 matches the transition tender for offensive linemen in 2016. The magic number is a whopping $11.902 million.
Per multiple sources, Cooper did not adjust his contract in connection with the trade. It means that the Patriots will have to decide based on limited information whether to pick up an option that, if exercised, will give Cooper an injury-only guaranteed of $11.902 million for 2017.
Either way, Cooper has a base salary of $675,000 for 2016. If the option isn’t exercised, it will be Cooper’s contract year.
The former North Carolina standout missed all of his rookie year with a broken leg. In 2014, he appeared in 10 games with two starts. Last season, Cooper appeared in 14 regular-season games, starting nine. He also played in both postseason contests.
The Cardinals were in the process of moving him to center. Instead, he’s been shipped out the door.