It is no secret around New England that this has been a tough offseason for the Patriots. Not only did Tom Brady pack his bags for Tampa Bay, but several key contributors moved on to different opportunities. After franchise tagging Joe Thuney, re-signing Devin McCourty, and having Tom Brady’s dead cap hit officially kick in this offseason, the Patriots found themselves in a very tough situation monetarily despite losing some major players. The Patriots even had to get creative with an extension for Patrick Chung to ensure that they could afford to sign their whole draft class.
With a quarterback room of Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer, the two of which make less than two million dollars combined, it would seem as if the Patriots would have plenty of financial resources to add talent to the roster. Unfortunately, New England will pay around $23 million of dead money this season to players who are no longer on the roster. According to @patscap on Twitter, the Patriots have less than $1 million in cap space currently, despite how little money they will be paying at the quarterback position.
While these numbers seem troubling for Patriots fans, there actually are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The Patriots will not be rebuilding, but simply taking a year to see what they have in Stidham, and being ready to pounce in next year’s offseason. With tons of dead money coming off of the books, the teams salary cap outlook for 2021 looks very encouraging. The Patriots are anticipated to have close to 100 million dollars in cap space entering next offseason, which would currently leave them in the top 5 of most projected cap space for next year. Heres a look at who could be a free agent after the 2020 season.
While it is impossible to predict exactly what the Patriots have in Stidham, it is hard not to fantasize about how the Patriots roster could be constructed if he succeeds while possessing such a miniscule cap number. If Stidham turns out to be the answer, and the Patriots quarterback of the future, they will have plenty of money to spend putting talent around him on offense, and continue to build up an already solid defense.
Bill Belichick and company have always looked for undervalued players often turning bargain in signings into seriously coveted NFL assets. But imagine Belichick with $100 million in cap space? For the first time in a long time, the Patriots could look to be involved in free agency way more than fans are used to. It is very difficult to predict what could happen a year from now, and the 2020 season will answer many questions, but the simple prospect of having $100 million in cap space is tantalizing and very exciting.
While this season seems like it may be a transition year for the Patriots, they are on track for anything but a rebuild. Belichick is not getting any younger, and it is not in his identity to tank or start again from square one. The Patriots roster is still loaded with talent, and as long as they have the Coach they are a threat in the AFC every season. The Patriots will use this season to find their identity without Brady, see if Stidham is the starting quarterback of the future, and then be ready to retool in 2021 for a new era of competitive Patriots football.
(Photo: (Stew Milne – USA TODAY Sports)