Griffin's deal as it relates to Chung

Patriots safety Patrick Chung enters 2012 as a projected starter, and is set to play out the final year of the contract he signed as a rookie in 2009.

Free agency looms for the 24-year old, and should Chung reach that point, it’s likely that there would be a market for his services. It’s possible that the Patriots will limit Chung from testing the waters of unrestricted free agency by either signing him to an extension, or by using the franchise tag to ensure he’ll stick around for at least another season.

A lot can change between now and next offseason, but should Chung maintain his health and perform at a level we have seen him capable of (i.e. a repeat of his 2010 season), he would figure to seek a handsome raise in a long-term deal scenario.

Comparing players directly can be a tricky endeavor given the number of factors that go into drafting a contract, but the deal signed by Titans safety Michael Griffin on Tuesday afternoon (reportedly worth roughly $35 million over five years) is an interesting one to keep in mind as it relates to Chung.

Safeties aren’t regular candidates to receive lucrative long-term deals, so our database of comparable players to Chung is somewhat limited. Although Griffin had finished his sixth season before receiving his new deal (Chung enters his fifth in 2012), the two have career paths that are at least similar in nature. Griffin holds the edge in production, but Chung’s influence in New England has certainly been noticeable when he’s been on the field.

A number of possibilities could eventually play out for Chung, and time will tell what type of contract he will receive and from what team. At the same time, it’s never too soon to keep an eye out on the landscape to examine various scenarios, and Griffin’s deal adds context to Chung’s potential free agency situation.