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Patriots’ uncertainty about Cardona’s status reflected in contract

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — There were some raised eyebrows when the New England Patriots selected Navy long snapper Joe Cardona in the fifth round of this year’s draft.

Not only because long snappers don’t often get drafted but also the uncertainty surrounding when Cardona will be able to play as he fulfills his military commitment.

Making it even more unusual is that throughout the offseason and as the Patriots’ minicamp concluded, Cardona is the only long snapper on the roster.

Cardona has done a consistent job in practices open to the media, but as the offseason workouts wound down, head coach Bill Belichick acknowledged there are question marks regarding the situation.

“We’ll see,” Belichick said. “He’s been here for pretty much everything that we’ve done. Ultimately, that’s not really our decision.

“But the Navy has been very cooperative in terms of his responsibilities. But he’s in the Navy; he’s on duty. It’s not like he’s getting out of anything. He’s active. We’ve been able to work the schedules out, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Because of the uncertainty, Cardona signed a unique contract that was below market for the signing bonus usually paid in his slot. One pick in front of him, San Francisco 49ers punter Bradley Pinion received a signing bonus of $194,200, and the player selected immediately after him, New Orleans Saints cornerback Damian Swann, was paid a bonus of $187,232. Cardona’s signing bonus was just $100,000.

However, Cardona has one-game roster bonuses for the first three seasons of his four-year contract that could make up the difference. If he is on the 53-man roster, injured reserve or physically unable to perform for one game in any of those seasons, he would receive a bonus of $17,500 this year, $37,500 in 2016 and $45,000 in 2017 for a total of another $100,000 if he does it all three years.


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