Before signing with the New England Patriots last week, former University of Florida running back and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Jeff Demps drew interest from several NFL teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets. Tim Tebow, Demps' college quarterback, even was asked to take part in the recruiting process.
The high level of interest in Demps, who had over 3,500 all-purpose yards with 25 touchdowns in his 51-game career with the Gators, was reflected in the contract he signed with the Patriots.
Most undrafted free agents who have signed their first NFL contract after the OTAs and minicamp period, or during training camp, have received no signing bonuses and are assured of nothing more than an opportunity to make the 53-man roster.
That was not the case with Demps.
Demps, who was on the U.S. 4 x 100-meter relay team, received a signing bonus of $11,000, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Demps' signing bonus brings the Patriots closer to the $76,585 maximum that teams could spend on signing bonuses for undrafted free agents in 2012. (New England currently is at $76,500
In addition to the signing bonus, the Patriots have fully `guaranteed $200,000 of the $390,000 base salary Demps would earn if he makes the 53-man roster. If Demps does not make the team, he'd still get that money. The total of $211,000 in guaranteed money is the second-largest sum given to a 2012 undrafted free agent, exceeded only by the $214,000 the Dallas Cowboys guaranteed offensive lineman Ronald Leary.
Does the guaranteed money assure Demps of a spot on the Patriots' 53-man roster? Not necessarily. Demps has not done anything football-related since Jan. 2. He lost 15 pounds to compete in the Olympics and won't hit the practice field for the first time until Wednesday. After that, Demps will have two preseason games in a five-day span to show if he can contribute in a meaningful way to the Patriots this season.
The Patriots clearly want to keep Demps beyond the month of August, though, and the base salary guarantee in the contract could be high enough to scare away teams from claiming him off waivers. The Patriots could then sneak Demps onto their practice squad, where they routinely pay their practice squad players above the minimum weekly salary ($5,700 per week again in 2012).