Patriots offer jersey guarantee

The New England Patriots will become the first NFL franchise to offer rebates to anyone who buys a jersey of a player who is no longer under contract to the team within a year of the purchase.

On Thursday morning, the team sent an email about what it calls the jersey guarantee to everyone on its mailing list.

If fans purchase jerseys from the team website or stadium store and the players whose names are on the back leave the team within a year of purchase, those fans will receive a 25 percent discount toward the price of the next Patriots jersey they buy. Fans, who will have two months from the day a player is no longer under contract to make a new purchase with the discount, do not have to return the original jerseys with the names of former players.

Last year, the team took the unprecedented move of allowing anyone who had bought a jersey of Aaron Hernandez, who is charged with murder, to exchange it for the jersey of another player. More than 1,200 fans took the team up on the offer.

But the Patriots wanted to do more to give fans confidence to buy jerseys. Tim Tebow was a popular seller last year, but he was cut before the season started. LeGarrette Blount, who became the Patriots' go-to rusher in the second half of last season and became a popular jersey purchase, left in March to sign a two-year deal with the Steelers.

With the guarantee, fans now might feel better about buying a Darrelle Revis jersey even though the cornerback is signed to the team only for this season.

There are three tiers of officially licensed NFL Nike jerseys and the discount applies to all of them. The game jersey, the cheapest adult-sized replica, costs $100. The limited jersey, which has embroidered twill numbers, will cost $150 this season, up from $135. And the elite jersey, which is the closest to what the players wear on the field, will retail for $295, up from $250 last season.