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Previewing the New England Patriots 2016 Salary Cap (Part 2) – Offense and Special Teams

Miguel Benzan
Miguel Benzan on Twitter
6 years ago at 6:25 pm ET
Posted Under: Free Agency

A couple of my Twitter followers asked for a New England Patriots 2016 salary cap preview. Please note that I have used Brian McFarland’s preview of the Ravens 2016 salary cap a template for this blog post.

These numbers were last updated on January 9, 2016.

January 31 update – Noted that KeShawn Martin was extended after this blog was first published on January 9th.

Quick summary – The Patriots are going to have to make several difficult decisions in the next couple of years about which young players to retain. I will presume that the 2016 salary cap will be $154 million. Given that we are about 2 months away from the start of the 2016 League Year (4PM, March 9) this preview may be premature so I plan to update this later this year as we come close to the start of the 2016 League Year.

In order to keep these blog posts relatively short I had to break up this preview into 3 pieces.
The first blog explains my projections for the 2016 Patriots adjusted salary cap number. This post projects what will happen with the Patriots unrestricted free agents, the players on the offensive side of the ball and the special teamers. The third blog will project what will happen with the defensive players.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (UFAs)
The following 9 Patriots are Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) and will be free to sign with other teams if they haven’t re-signed with the Patriots before Free Agency begins on March 9th at 4:00 p.m.:

LB – Dekoda Watson ($585,000 salary, $34,412 cap)
OL – Ryan Wendell ($2,406,240 cap)
CB – Tarell Brown ($2,000,000 cap)
WR – Brandon Gibson ($671,240 cap)
DT – Akiem Hicks ($1,542,000 salary, $1,259,588 cap)
RB – LeGarette Blount ($962,122 cap)
RB – Stephen Jackson ($970,000 salary, $114,117 cap)
S – Nate Ebner ($690,390 cap)
S – Tavon Wilson ($1,348,297 cap)

The Patriots do not have any UFAs that must be re-signed. 4 UFAs (Wendell, Brown, Gibson, Blount) are currently on IR. There is no chance that any of the nine UFAs will be given the franchise tag.

1/9 projections on what will happen with the 10 UFAs
LB – Dekoda Watson – signed to a Minimum Salary Benefit deal
OL – Ryan Wendell – either signs with another team or retires
CB – Tarell Brown – signed to a similar deal in 2016 but since incentives are now NLTBE a smaller cap hit
WR – Brandon Gibson – Signed to a Minimum Salary Benefit deal
WR – KeShawn Martin – Signed to a small two-year incentive-laden deal – Done
DT – Akiem Hicks – signs with another team in the hopes of more playing time
RB – LeGarette Blount – signs with the Patriots to another $1 million deal.
RB – Stephen Jackson – Retires
S – Nate Ebner – Signs a Minimum Salary Benefit deal and competes for a roster spot during training camp
S – Tavon Wilson – Signs with another team

I am now going to examine by position the most likely 2016 salary cap consequences for the player.

Background information – The CBA says that “a Rookie Contract for a Drafted Rookie may not be renegotiated, amended or altered in any way until after the final regular season game of the player’s third contract year” which means that the contracts of the Patriots drafted in 2014 or 2015 can not be redone at all during the 2016 season. This affects Dominique Easley, Jimmy Garoppolo, Bryan Stork, James White, Tyler Gaffney, Malcom Brown, Jordan Richards, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, Tre’ Jackson, Shaq Mason, Joe Cardona, A.J. Derby and Darryl Roberts. The CBA also says that a “Rookie Contract for an Undrafted Rookie may not be renegotiated, amended or altered in any way until after the final regular season game of the player’s second contract year” which means that David Andrews’ contract can not be redone during the 2016 season.

More background information – The 2016 League Year starts at 4PM, March 9th. By the time the 2016 League Year the player with the 51st highest cap number will have a salary of $600,000. Am presuming that the Patriots will tender all of the ERFAs (Exclusive Rights Free Agents).

The first number after the player is their 2016 salary cap number. The second number is the year that the player is signed through.

QBs (2): Tom Brady ($15M, 2017 ); Jimmy Garoppolo ($950,154, 2017)

Per the CBA Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract can not be touched until after the 2016 season so his 2016 salary cap number will remain at $950,154 – a bargain price for a backup quarterback. Like Jimmy Garoppolo Tom Brady is signed through the 2017 season.

In the past the Patriots and Tom Brady have reached extensions when he has two years left on his deal. Given how Tom Brady’s willingness to play at a discount price for such an elite quarterback the most likely scenario is that Brady plays out the 2016 season at his $15 million cap number, which is currently the 19th highest cap number for a quarterback in 2016. Brady will move up the ranking to 16th after Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick are released by their current teams. There is a small possibility that the Patriots reach an 3-year extension with Brady keeping him with the team through the 2020 season. Such a deal could lower Brady’s salary to $1 million while giving him a signing bonus. Any extension with Brady would likely lower his 2016 cap number by a couple of million dollars

RBs (4): Brandon Bolden ($1,263,125, 2016); Dion Lewis ($1.0875M, 2017 ); James White ($699,272, 2017 ); Tyler Gaffney ($600K, 2017);

Per the CBA the contracts of James White and Tyler Gaffney can not be touched until after the 2016 season so their 2016 salary cap number will remain the same.

Since Dion Lewis just signed an extension and is coming off a season-ending injury, can’t imagine that his deal will be touched this year so he will remain a bargain. Please note that as Dion Lewis is active for more games than he was in 2015 (7) his salary cap number will go up by $12,500 as he earns a NLTBE (Not Likely to Be Earned) 46-man active roster bonus.

I fully expect Brandon Bolden to play the 2016 season on his current deal and to reach a deal with the Patriots soon after the 2016 season. If Brandon Bolden is active for all 16 games during the 2016 season his salary cap number will go up by $21,875 as he earns a NLTBE (Not Likely to Be Earned) 46-man active roster bonus.

The Patriots will need to reserve a total of $134,375 just in case both Lewis and Bolden are active for 16 games.

WRs (6): Danny Amendola ($7,329,166,2017); Julian Edelman ($4,421,875,2017); Brandon Lafell ($3.675M, 2016); Aaron Dobson ($1,090,845, 2016); Chris Harper ($525K, 2016); Boyce ($525K)

Expect that Chris Harper will be competing for a roster spot during training camp. But if cut before then Harper would leave no dead money on the cap while not creating any cap space since it is very likely that Harper will not have the 51 highest salary cap numbers therefore his $525K salary would not count against the cap. While waiving Dodson creates little cap space ($272,505 total) I expect him to be waived before the start of training camp, probably in March so as to avoid the possibility of him getting injured.

Expect that Josh Boyce will be tendered as an ERFA and that he will compete for a roster spot during training camp. If cut Boyce would leave no dead money on the cap while not creating any cap space since it is very likely that Boyces will not have the 51 highest salary cap numbers therefore his $525K salary would not count against the cap.

After missing 7 games during the 2015 season I expect Julian Edelman to play the 2016 season without a change to his contract. Please note that as Edelman is active for more games than he was in 2015 (9) his salary cap number will go up by $46,875 as he earns a NLTBE (Not Likely to Be Earned) 46-man active roster bonus. The Patriots will need to reserve a total of $328,125 just in case Edelman is active for all 16 games during the 2016 season. Edelman has a $500,000 NLTBE incentive if one of the following four things happens in 2016:

  1. 1,057 receiving yards
  2. 70 receptions plus seven TDs
  3. 80 receptions plus 13 wins
  4. 80 receptions plus Super Bowl appearance

Given his 2015 poor season and the Patriots’ need to create cap space for the 2016 season I project Lafell to be cut before the start of the 2016 League Year. Cutting Lafell will create $2,075,000 in cap space while creating 1 million in dead money.

I project that Danny Amendola will reach another restructure with the Patriots that lowers his 2016 cap number. His 2016 cap number is currently the 24th highest among all wideouts and is close to 3 million more than Edelman’s. Since Edelman is a superior player expect Pats to attempt to lower the 3 million difference. Most likely scenario is an deal that lowers Amendola’s salary to maybe a million while giving a small signing bonus (2 to 3 million) in return. Such a deal would lower his 2016 cap number by $3 million while increasing his 2017 cap number by 1 million to $9,391,668. Another scenario would be a straight paycut. Another scenario, however unlikely, is that the Patriots completely redo Amendola’s deal by extending him while paying him a medium signing bonus ($5 to 8 million). Such an extension would lower both his 2016 and 2017 cap numbers.

TE (4): Rob Gronkowski ($6,618,750, 2019); Scott Chandler ($3.050M, 2016 ); Michael Williams ($525K, 2016); A.J. Derby ($478,013, 2018)

Per the CBA A.J. Derby’s contract can not be touched until after the 2016 season so his 2016 salary cap number will remain the same.

Expect that Michael Williams will be competing for a roster spot during training camp. But if cut before then Williams would leave no dead money on the cap while not creating any cap space since it is very likely that Williams will not have the 51 highest salary cap numbers therefore his $525K salary would not count against the cap.

Given his 2015 poor season and the Patriots’ need to create cap space for the 2016 season I project Scott Chandler to be cut before the start of the 2016 League Year. Cutting Scott Chandler will create $1,450,000 in cap space while creating 1 million in dead money.

The Patriots have until 4PM March 9th to pick up Gronkowski’s option. Fully expect them to do so. Do not expect any changes to his 2016 cap number since it is such a bargain price for one of the game’s best players.

OL (10): Nate Solder ($10,322,666, 2017); Sebastian Vollmer ($5,208,334, 2016 ); Marcus Cannon ($4,754,168, 2016); Josh Kline ($2.175M, 2017); Bryan Stork ($719,250, 2017); Tre’ Jackson ($655,935,2018); Shaq Mason ($635,881, 2018), David Andrews ($530K, 2017), Cameron Fleming ($600K, 2016), Kevin Hughes ($525K, 2016)

Per the CBA the contracts of Bryan Stork and David Andrews can not be touched until after the 2016 season so their 2016 salary cap number will remain the same. Per the CBA the contracts of Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason can not be touched until after the 2017 season so their 2016 salary cap number will remain the sameGiven the Patriots need to develop backup offensive tackles expect Kevin Hughes who spent the entire season on IR to be tendered as an ERFA. Also expect that Kevin Hughes will be competing for a roster spot during training camp. If cut Hughes would leave no dead money on the cap while not creating any cap space since it is very likely that Hughes will not have the 51 highest salary cap numbers therefore his $525K salary would not count against the cap.

Expect Cameron Fleming who started 5 games at right tackle and one at left tackle to be tendered as an ERFA. Also expect that Kevin Hughes will be competing for a roster spot during training camp. If cut Cameron Fleming would leave no dead money on the cap while not creating any cap space since it is very likely that he will be tied for the 51 highest salary cap number therefore his $600K salary would not count against the cap.

Since Solder’s 2016 6 million salary is fully guaranteed, there is no chance that the Patriots will release him during the 2016 season as there would be very little cap savings in doing so. Please note that as Solder is active for more games than he was in 2015 (4) his salary cap number will go up by $31,250 as he earns a NLTBE (Not Likely to Be Earned) 46-man active roster bonus. The Patriots will need to reserve a total of $375,000 just in case Edelman is active for all 16 games during the 2016 season.

Since Josh Kline signed an extension in 2015, can’t imagine that his deal will be touched this year so he will remain a bargain for an interior linemen. Please note that as Kline is active for more games than he was in 2015 (14) his salary cap number will go up by $12,500 as he earns a NLTBE (Not Likely to Be Earned) 46-man active roster bonus. The Patriots will need to reserve a total of $25,000 just in case Kline is active for all 16 games during the 2016 season.

Because he did not earn his 75% playing-time incentive Vollmer’s 2016 salary cap number of just over $5.2 million is a bargain for a starting right tackle in the league.

Project Marcus Cannon to be cut sometime during the 2016 season. The Patriots may cut him early during the 2016 League Year if they feel the need to create cap space in order to sign/extend other players. They may wait until the roster cutdowns to cut Cannon just in case they have not found a capable replacement for him. Cutting Cannon would create $3,087,500 in cap space.

ST (4): Stephen Gostkowski ($4.1M) Matthew Slater ($1,766,668); Ryan Allen ($1.7M); Joe Cardona ($587.5K)

Do not expect any changes to any of the four contracts in 2016.

My next blog will cover the defensive side of the ball.

You can follow me on Twitter at @patscap.

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Posted Under: Free Agency

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