Saturday, February 08, 2014

Cover32: Pats have surprises in store to free up salary cap space

The New England Patriots will soon turn to free agency and the draft as they attempt to put a trying 2013 season behind them and focus on taking the next step and getting past the AFC Championship Game and back to the Super Bowl. To do so, the team has a number of moves to make to improve on both sides of the ball. The Patriots need to clear some space on their salary cap and make some better decisions in free agency.
That said, there are always surprising decisions made by the Patriots when it comes to the final roster. Last offseason saw the release of productive (if maddening) wide receiver Brandon Lloyd and the departure of Wes Welker to Denver. Running back Danny Woodhead was deemed too expensive as he went to San Diego. Also, safety Patrick Chung went to Philadelphia. Add in the release/retirement of Deion Branch and the bizarre Aaron Hernandez saga leading to his release.
The NFL salary cap is far from a hard cap, as there are numerous ways for teams to free up some cash. According to Miguel Benzan who is now at, New England has about $7.3 million in salary cap space while factoring in dead money, the rule of 51 salary numbers, and the carried-over cap space from 2013. There are a few moves that seem like no-brainers, such as dumping disappointing defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga and saving $2 million in cap space (all cap numbers from and guard Dan Connolly saving $2.5 million in cap space, but there are other moves that may require some tough decisions.
The first is defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. It seem odd that the Patriots could think of releasing him, but with Tommy Kelly due back (at a $3 million dollar cap hit) and impressive Sealver Siliga at defensive tackle, Wilfork is not providing bang for the buck with his $7.5 million base salary and counting $11.6 million against the salary cap. Youngster Armond Armstead should be back for training camp after missing all of 2013 and youngster Chris Jones and Joe Vellano should be back as well.
Simply releasing Wilfork saves $7.5 million against the salary cap and will be tempting to the team management...FOR MUCH MORE CLICK HERE: New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

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