On the face of it, the $7 million in cap space the New England Patriots cleared yesterday might seem insignificant, but if the Patriots are to have a successful season it might prove pivotal. Now with $8.9 million in estimated cap space per spotrac, the Patriots have given themselves some much-needed flexibility heading into an uncertain training camp.
The Patriots settled two grievances that were holding back significant cap space. One relating to former tight-end Aaron Hernandez, and the other to last seasons rapidly deflating hot air bubble that was Antonio Brown. Freeing a combined $7 million in cap space for the coming season.
Whilst this still leaves the Patriots a combined $24.198 million in dead cap space, $13.5 million of which relates to the poor handling of the Tom Brady poison pill. It’s unusual to see New England in this kind of bind, so them showing the creativity to clear some space is impressive, but shouldn’t be unexpected.
How does this help the Patriots in 2020?
While the extra $7 million is nice, the main win in all this was at the Quarterback position. Having just signed veteran, and former NFL MVP Cam Newton to a 1-year prove-it deal the Patriots needed to add some security at the position.
And ironically, this cap space is exactly that.
Rather than having to cut some dead weight from the roster, the Patriots have some time. That dead weight would likely have been Brian Hoyer. A quarterback who already knows the Belichick system, but would’ve saved $1.05 million by being cut.
Keeping Hoyer on the team not only gives Cam Newton someone experienced in the system to learn from, it gives the Patriots someone in house they can fall back on if Newton isn’t ready to go week 1. This isn’t a glowing endorsement for the work of Jarrett Stidham, but we’ve already covered that here.
Normally this level of flexibility wouldn’t be that important. But in a COVID-19 pandemic, contact free pre-season like we’re having, things have got a lot more complicated. While you can prepare virtually, and some players are meeting up in states with more lax rules, covering your bottom line is a very clever way to go.
So while the extra cap will allow them to add players as they become available, or cover injuries as required, or just to carry into next season, it’s main benefit is in allowing the quarterback position to solidify before they make any more moves.
Which is very smart once again from the Patriots.