Salary cap space
As of March 17, 2021, the Patriots are projected to have $69,030,131 in cap space for 2021.
The Patriots rolled over $19.6 million in 2020 cap space.
March 10 update: The salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.
It’s safe to say Tom Brady won the Year 1 of the separation between him and the New England Patriots. While he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC Championship Game, New England finished 7-9 and was on the outside looking in to the playoffs. The Patriots took a chance on Cam Newton, and the experiment failed.
Without much money tied into the quarterback position, the Patriots have a ton of cap room to make some moves this offseason. It will be interesting to see how Bill Belichick plans to shape this roster.
The NFL powered though its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The league played without fans in most stadiums, and limited fans in a handful of locations. The decrease in gate revenue is going to result in a decrease in money shared between the 32 teams. This in turn means the salary cap is expected to decrease. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a salary cap of no lower than $175 million. The latest report has the number landing between $180 and $181 million, which is a good bit lower than the $198.2 million of this past season. This will result in some tough choices for many teams.
All salary cap information below comes courtesy of the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report.
The obvious question must be what the Patriots decide to do at the quarterback position. Newton was signed to just a one-year deal in 2020 for a small $1,050,000 salary, so he’s a free agent and who knows what is next for his career. Brian Hoyer is also a free agent, so the only quarterback under contract for the 2021 season is 24-year-old Jarrett Stidham, who finished his second of a four-year rookie deal. He is set to make $850,000 in 2021 and has not proven he’s a long-term solution. Where the Patriots go at quarterback will be one of the most interesting storylines this NFL offseason, and it’s possible they find their guy in the draft where they are picking 15th overall.
New England had a league-most eight players opt out of the 2020 season, and one of them was the leader of the linebackers Dont’a Hightower. He is set to make $8 million assuming he returns to the team. Hightower is going to be 31 years old when the 2021 season starts, which is his last under contract with the Patriots. He isn’t guaranteed any money on his contract, but he looked good the last time he played in 2019 so it seems likely Hightower will stick with the Patriots this season.
Another item to watch is what happens with wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is coming off his 12th NFL season. He has one more season left on his three-year contract and is set to make $2.8 million as a base salary, though none of it is guaranteed. Edelman appears to want to keep his career going, though he will be 35 years old when next season starts. He’s not that expensive, but the Patriots could move on from him and start fresh at the receiver position without much of an issue.