New England Patriots: An Offseason Salary Cap Review
It was quite the summer for the Patriots with extensions for their two star tight ends yet no progress made on star WR Wes Welker, which seems to be a polarizing topic among Patriot fans. The was the saga of Jonathan Fanene and a bunch of money being paid for no results. The Patriots are clearly looking to get money back from him and it will be interesting to see how that turns out in the future. You had the big signing of RB Jeff Demps, the Olympic sprinter, and surprising move to IR, which may have had to do with a salary split or simply due to a bad injury. Since the team is not very forthcoming about injuries it will be difficult to determine why they so hastily placed him on IR. One thing is for certain and that is that no team was more active than New England this summer. The number of transactions they made which affected the cap was huge. No other team in the AFC East tried so many options. They looked everywhere in an effort to change the composition of the team. We’ll see if it pays off.
The Patriots did cut a number of “top 51” players in the final cuts, (eight), which created some additional cap space for the team to play with in the future. The biggest was QB Brian Hoyer, which seemed like a pure salary dump, as he made nearly $1.42 million more than third stringer Ryan Mallett. This played in with a big overall theme for New England which was a purging and turning over of the roster. The largest amount of cap spending this year actually came in the form of dead money, accounting for 15.5% of the teams spending. The team has another $4.5 million in dead money committed to 2013 as well as they finalize turning things over. It should be noted that if they do get cap credits from Fanene or from Robert Gallery, who quickly retired after signing with the team, it will reduce the amount next season.
The cap splits here pretty much are typical of what one would expect from New England with most of the money invested in the front 7 and the secondary getting limited spending. Belichick has long believed that he can get anyone to play secondary and they rarely get into long term deals with players in the secondary. They do have promising players in Kyle Arrington and Devin McCourty, but I have a feeling they will finish their careers elsewhere. The QB number is artificially low because Brady restructured his contract this season, though I think that is offset by Welker playing on the franchise tag. Overall the team committed about 41% of its cap to offense and only 36% to defense. Their positional splits are pretty even, much moreso than the other teams in the division. With over 19% allocated to players who won’t play a down for the team (unless G Brian Waters return to the team), New England is going to have a chance to prove people wrong about excessive dead money likely being a sign of some mismanagement of the roster. In addition the Patriots should have about $9 million in unused cap room which they will most likely look to carry over to next season, which could give them a large cushion to go after a big name receiever or two to give Brady one last window at dominating the conference.