Why the Patriots have the second-least cap space in the NFL

The New England Patriots have let a lot of talent walk in free agency this offseason. That includes Tom Brady, who joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-year deal worth up to $60 million, and linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, among others.

While the Patriots have always been known to look for value on the free-agent market, there may be a reason that they’re taking it to the extreme this season. They are a little cap-strapped.

According to NFL Network’s Bert Breer, as of Monday morning, the Patriots have the second-least cap space in the NFL. They trail only the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Per the NFL’s internal cap report, 10 teams with least space as of this AM.

1. Chiefs $555K
2. Patriots $2.80M
3. Saints $9.02M
4. Steelers $10.64M
5. Falcons $14.28M
6. Packers $14.80M
7. Cardinals $15.71M
8. Ravens $17.42M
9. Niners $19.49M
10. Rams $19.65M

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 23, 2020

And in case you’re wondering, the release of Stephen Gostkowski doesn’t really impact this number much. The Patriots saved less than $1 million cutting him and added special teams ace Cody Davis earlier in the day. In all likelihood, the savings from Gostkowski being cut will roughly equal Davis’ deal.

Why exactly do the Patriots have so little cap room? Well, part of the reason is that they’re shelling out about $26 million in dead cap space, according to OverTheCap.com

Currently, the Patriots have the third-most dead money in the league, trailing only the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars. That’s not a good thing. At all.

Dead money is, in most basic terms, money that is being paid to a player that’s no longer on the roster. So, $26 million of the Patriots salary cap budget is being allocated to those players, and here’s a look at who they are, per OverTheCap.com:

Tom Brady, $13.5 millionAntonio Brown, $4.75 millionStephen Gostkowski, $3.2 millionMichael Bennett, $2 millionDuron Harmon, $1.5 millionDuke Dawson, $765,410Mike Pennel, $250,000

Considering that Brown and Bennett played a combined seven games for the Patriots, their dead cap numbers are hard to stomach. And Brady’s massive number comes as a result of the restructured deal they gave him last offseason when they weren’t willing to extend him. Obviously, that backfired as Brady is now gone.

The Patriots will have some ways that they can make more cap room if they should desire. They can sign players to extensions to free up space — a tool frequently used by Bill Belichick in the past — or they could cut players to make room. We’ll see if they do anything more to add talent in free agency or if they’ll shift their focus to the 2020 NFL Draft moving forward.

Why the Patriots have the second-least cap space in the NFL originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston



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