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Inside the Ezekiel Elliott deal with the Patriots

Yes, “up to” was doing a lot of work in the initial reports regarding running back Ezekiel Elliott’s one-year deal with the Patriots.

It’s truly worth “up to $6 million,” but he needs to do a lot to get up there.

He gets a signing bonus of $600,000 and a base salary of $1.55 million. (The salary reduces to $1 million if he suffers a season-ending injury before the first game of the regular season.)

He also has $50,000 per game tied to being on the active roster. That’s another $850,000, in all.

He also has $3 million in potential incentives. They fall into two categories, and are earned $300,000 at a time.

For 975 yards from scrimmage, he gets $300,000. For 1,100 yards from scrimmage, he gets another $300,000.

Ditto at 1,225 yards from scrimmage, 1,350 yards from scrimmage and 1,475 yards from scrimmage, up to $1.5 million.

He also gets $300,000 for participating in 50 percent of the offensive snaps. Another $300,000 is added at 55 percent, 60 percent, 65 percent, and 70 percent.

Thus, Elliott gets $6 million if he suits up for every regular-season game, if he generates more than 1,475 yards from scrimmage, and if he’s on the field for at least 70 percent of the offensive snaps.

Given the way the Patriots use running backs, the last one could be the hardest to satisfy.