FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The details are in with free-agent running back Jeremy Hill's one-year contract with the New England Patriots, and the biggest takeaway is that the club assumes little risk in the pact.
Hill's total compensation is $1.5 million, and the only guarantee is his $150,000 signing bonus. If he makes the roster, he will earn a base salary of $1 million, and then can earn an additional $300,000 in roster bonuses ($18,750 per game if on the 46-man, game-day roster). Hill can also earn a $50,000 workout bonus.
So, assuming good health, the Patriots are on the hook for $200,000 (signing bonus plus workout bonus) to see if Hill can regain the form that made him a second-round pick out of LSU in 2014. That's quite reasonable.
It also fits into the Patriots' overall financial running back picture when considering Rex Burkhead is back on a three-year deal worth $9.75 million deal, trusted third-down back James White signed a three-year, $12 million extension last year and Mike Gillislee was signed to a two-year, $6.4 million last year.
With those contracts in place, any deal that would fit for the Patriots at the position would be modest, and this one qualifies.
Meanwhile, from Hill's perspective, this type of "prove-it" contract has value because if he becomes a key cog in the Patriots' attack -- or at least a top option at the goal line -- it could set him up for a larger free-agent deal at this time next year. Hill had faded off the radar a bit this past year with the Cincinnati Bengals, in part because the team had turned to second-round pick Joe Mixon.
Perhaps a change of scenery will bring out the best in him.