Patriots do right thing with Sebastian Vollmer's incentives

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Last month, the point was made that when a team includes playing time incentives in a contract, it can create a conflict between individual goals and team goals. New England Patriots offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer was used as an example.

The thought came to mind after watching the Patriots’ offensive tackle usage/rotation the last four weeks -- with Marcus Cannon subbing in for left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer at times -- while remembering that Vollmer has significant money in playing-time incentives this year ($1 million for 80 percent of the snaps and $2 million for 90 percent of the snaps). I don’t think the Patriots are doing it to save money, but if you’re Vollmer, how does that thought not at least cross your mind, especially when seeing Cannon struggle a bit?

To the Patriots’ credit, they have since done the right thing and tweaked Vollmer’s incentives, as reported Monday by ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates.

The Patriots didn’t have to do anything, but when they agreed to Vollmer’s original contract, the spirit of the pact was that Vollmer would earn his money if he was healthy and available to the team. Given his injury history, the team wanted to protect itself.

Fair enough.

Well, Vollmer has been healthy and available all season, but his playing time total has been affected by a rotation in which Cannon sometimes replaces him. The Patriots believe Cannon is also a good player who deserves the time, and perhaps there is an aspect of attempting to build Cannon’s confidence after he struggled at guard earlier this season.

The trickle-down effect of that decision, however, could have potentially cost Vollmer significant money in incentives despite the fact he's healthy and available to the team.

By tweaking the pact, that becomes less of an issue.

Vollmer’s playing time this season

at Dolphins: 85 of 86

at Vikings: 65 of 65

vs. Raiders: 75 of 75

at Chiefs: 39 of 50

vs. Bengals: 76 of 86

at Bills: 60 of 71

vs. Jets: 54 of 57

vs. Bears: 53 of 74

vs. Broncos: 84 of 84

Total: 591 of 648 (91.2 percent)