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How Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots can create even more cap space to repeat in 2015

Miguel Benzan
Miguel Benzan on Twitter
7 years ago at 1:18 am ET
Posted Under: Free Agency

As of March 12, 2015 I have Pats under their adjusted cap number of $144,578,084 by $9,901,603. This purpose of this blog post is to illustrate some options that the New England Patriots have to further increase the $9.55 million cap space number. Please note that I will not be mentioning Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis and Vince Wilfork here since their 2015 options were not be picked up. In the first edition of this blog I did predict that Wilfork’s option would be declined and that Revis would be extended. Keep that in mind that I am batting .500 while reading this:)

When determining the cap savings from releasing players, keep in mind the Rule of 51. When a player from the top 51 is released or traded, the base salary of the player with the 52nd-highest cap number is added to the cap. For example, if Amendola was released, his cap number would be lowered by $2,100,000, although the actual team savings would be only $1,590,000 because another player’s $510,000 base salary would be added to the team cap.

These numbers are in millions
Player Salary Bonuses Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings after Top 51 effect
Tom Brady $8 $6 $14 $18 (-$4.51)
Jerod Mayo $6.25 $4 $10.2875 $6 $3.7775
Rob Gronkowski $4.75 $3.9 $8.65 $8.3 ($.016)
Sebastian Vollmer $2.25 $5.8 $8.02 $4.2 $3.34
Nate Solder $7.438 $0 $7.438 $0 $6.928
Danny Amendola $4 $1.7 $5.7 $3.6 $1.59
Kyle Arrington $3 $1.625 $4.625 $3.5 $.865
Julian Edelman $2.25 $1.9 $4.656 $5.75 (-$1.60375)
Rob Ninkovich $2.1 $1.85 $3.95 $2.5 $.94
Brandon Lafell $1.8 $1.7 $3.5 $2 $.99
Marcus Cannon $1.2 $1.4 $2.6 $2.1 $0
Matthew Slater $1 $.666 $1.666 $2.3 (-$1.08)
Ryan Wendell $1 $.6 $2.45 $.425 $1.515
Michael Hoomanawanui $.8 $.78 $1.58 $.18 $.89
Alfonzo Dennard $1.5724 $0.014462 $1.5724 $0.014462 $1.064
Tavon Wilson $.8 $.78 $1.58 $.18 $.89
LaGarrette Blount $.75 $.25 $1 $0 $.49

Some notes on the above numbers

  • Jerod Mayo’s dead money increases to $10.5 million if release is injury-related. $4.5 million of Mayo’s 2015 salary is guaranteed for injury.
  • Rob Gronkowski’s dead money increases to $10,300,000 the beginning of the 2015 League Year because the Patriots would have to count the 2015 proration of his 2016 $10 million option bonus as dead money if they released Gronk after the start of the 2015 League Year.
  • Nate Solder’s dead money increases to $7,438,000 the beginning of the 2015 League Year because his $7.438 million becomes fully guaranteed then
  • Matthew Slater’s dead money drops to $1,333,334 if traded because his $1 million salary is fully guaranteed
  • Julian Edelman’s dead money drops to $3,750,000 if traded because $2 million of his 2015 salary is fully guaranteed and his new team would be responsible for it.
  • Rob Ninkovich’s dead money increases to $3,500,000 the 5th day of the 2015 League Year because $1 million of his salary becomes fully guaranteed that day
  • Michael Hoomananawui’s dead money increases to $480,000 the 5th day of the 2015 League Year because he is due a $300,000 roster bonus then
  • LaGarrette Blount’s dead money increases to $100,000 the 5th day of the 2015 League Year because he is due a $100,000 roster bonus then
  • Ryan Wendell’s 2015 cap number may be increased if any part of his $1.25 million in playing-time incentives are classified as LTBE for the 2015 season.
  • Brandon Lafell’s 2015 cap number may be increased if any more part of his 2015 incentives are classified as LTBE for the 2015 season.

In the early years of the Bill Belichick era the Patriots would sometimes create cap space by converting a good portion of the player’s salary into a signing bonus. The below table shows the 2015 cap savings if the Patriots lowered the player’s salary to $1 million. The savings amount would also increase the future signing bonus prorations for the player. Example. Danny Amendola’s 2015 cap number would decrease from $5.7 million to $3.7 million but his 2016/2017 cap numbers would increase by $1 million each. The increased signing bonus prorations is probably why the Patriots have moved away from this practice recently.

Name Convert Salary Savings
Brady, Tom $4,666,667
Gronkowski, Rob $3,000,000
Vollmer, Sebastian $625,000
Amendola, Danny $2,000,000
Edelman, Julian $833,333
Arrington, Kyle $1,000,000
Ninkovich, Rob $550,000
Lafell, Brandon $400,000
Cannon, Marcus $100,000

Here are some other possible ways that the Pats could free up cap space. Please note that I am NOT advocating that the Patriots do all of these salary-cap maneuvers. The bolded maneuvers are my current predictions for that particular player. Am NOT predicting that the Patriots will do all of the bolded moves, just that if they do a move with a player, that it will be the bolded one. There is no need for the Patriots to do all of the bolded moves. The players are listed in descending 2015 cap number. Please note that following some option will result in increasing the player’s cap numbers for future seasons.

  1. Redo Jerod Mayo’s deal similar to the 2014 Vince Wilfork restructure for a cap savings of $4,016,667
    Reaching a Wilfork-type deal with Jerod Mayo
  2. Release a healthy Jerod Mayo for a net cap savings of $3,777,500.
  3. Release an injured Jerod Mayo for a net cap loss of (-$722,500). I outline other cap scenarios for the Patriots and Jerod Mayo in this blog post
  4. Extend Sebastian Vollmer through the 2017 season for a net cap savings from 2 to 3 million.
  5. Extend Nate Solder for a net cap savings of $4.389 million. I would use the deal struck between the Arizona Cardinals and Jared Veldheer in March of 2014 as a template. 5 year, $35 million deal. $6.25 million signing bonus. $500,000 each year in 46-man active roster bonuses.
    • 2015 – $6.25m signing bonus, $1.25m fully guaranteed salary, $500,000 in 46-man active roster bonuses. 3 million cap number
    • 2016 – $5.5 million salary. $3 million guaranteed for injury at start of deal, becomes fully guaranteed at the start of 2016 season. $500,000 in 46-man active roster bonuses. $7.25 million cap number
    • 2017/2018/2019 – $6.5 million salary. $500,000 in 46-man active roster bonuses. $8.25 million cap number.

    As rich as this deal sounds, this would put Solder among the lowest paid left tackles who are NOT on a rookie contract.

  6. Release Nate Solder for a net cap savings of $6.928 million.
  7. Lower Danny Amendola’s salary from $4 million to $1.9 million while giving him the chance to earn back the money by reaching incentives – net cap savings of $2,100,000 which is $510,000 more than what would be achieved by releasing him. Amendola’s 2015 cap number would then be $3.6 million. Releasing Amendola before June 2nd would cause a dead money hit of $3.6 million. For the same amount of cap space as releasing him the Patriots would have on their roster a capable backup for Edelman. I outline other cap scenarios for the Patriots and Danny Amendola in this blog post.
  8. Release Danny Amendola for a net cap savings of $1,590,000
  9. Lower Danny Amendola’s salary from $4 million to $745,000, the lowest minimum salary for a player with Danny Amendola’s experience for a cap savings of $3,255,000. I just doubt that Amendola would agree to such a paycut.
  10. Release Ryan Wendell for a net cap savings of $1,505,000.
  11. Release Kyle Arrington for a net cap savings of $865,000
  12. Release Michael Hoomanawanui for a net cap savings of $890,000
  13. Trade or Waive Alfonzo Dennard – net cap savings of about $1 million. Because Alfonzo earned a Proven Performance Escalator, his 2015 salary will increase to the lowest RFA tender which is $1.542 million. Since it seems that both Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler have passed Dennard on their depth chart, there are better uses for Dennard’s $1.542 million salary especially when Dennard has a minuscule dead money hit of $14,462.
  14. Release Tavon Wilson for a net cap savings of $455,166
  15. Release LaGarrett Blount for a net cap savings of $490,000
  16. Sign Stephen Gostkowski to a 5-year deal, $19 million deal. $5 million signing bonus for a net cap savings of $1 million. Would no longer have a $50,000 Pro Bowl bonus in his deal. Instead will increase his offseason workout bonus money from $100,000 to $150,000. This deal would make Stephen the highest paid kicker with a APY of $3.8 million.
    2015
    Base salary: $1.85 million (fully guaranteed)
    Offseason workout: $150,000
    Cap figure: $3,000,000
    2016
    Base salary: $1.85 million (fully guaranteed)
    Offseason workout: $150,000
    Cap figure: $3 million
    2017
    Base salary: $1.85 million (will become fully guaranteed)
    Offseason workout: $150,000
    Cap figure: $3 million
    2018
    Base salary: $3.35 million
    Offseason workout: $150,000
    Cap figure: $4.5 million
    2019
    Base salary: $4.35 million
    Offseason workout: $150,000
    Cap figure: $5.5 million

As you can see from above, the Pats could create up to $15 million in cap space if they chose to do all of my bolded predictions. The $15 million is in addition to the $9.9 million they already have.

Here are the moves that I think that will happen

  1. Restructure Mayo
  2. Lower Danny Amendola’s salary
  3. Extend Nate Solder
  4. Release Michael Hoomanawanui

The Patriots may wait to do some of the other bolded moves for when they need to create cap space.


Posted Under: Free Agency

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