New England Patriots center Ryan Wendell was a revelation in 2012, as he beat out veteran Dan Koppen for the starting center job and never looked back that year. One of the unsung heroes on the Pats offense in ’12, Wendell played more snaps than any other offensive player, holding up well as a durable cog in one of the NFL’s fastest offensive attacks. He got better in pass protection as the year progressed, and he was also an amazing run blocker who quickly asserted himself as a grater next to left guard Logan Mankins.
The 2013 season represented a huge, pretty surprising step back for Wendell, who was arguably one of the league’s worst centers. He didn’t make as much of an impact in the running game, and his struggles as a pass blocker were even more pronounced. His low point came in the AFC Championship game, as Denver Broncos star defensive tackle Terrence Knighton absolutely whipped him.
After receiving just about no interest on the free agent market, ESPN Boston’s Field Yates reports that the Patriots have re-signed Wendell to a two-year deal laden with incentives that could cause him to make $6.85 million in total over the next two seasons. The 28-year-old will get an $850,000 signing bonus and 46-man roster bonuses for each game, so his base salary is worth just $1 million in 2014 and 2015.
Wendell can easily be cut, and the Patriots will hope that the incentives in this deal will help him play like he did in 2012, though Wendell is by all accounts a guy with great character. While he isn’t strong or big, Wendell is an incredible technician at the position who plays with a lot of intensity, so we’ll see if he can bounce back next year.