Image c/o of NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots clearly won the weekend by announcing the settlements of two major contract grievances, that of the alleged $9 mil owed to ousted WR Antonio Brown, which was settled for $5 and the NFL finally crediting back the Patriots their unpaid contract amounts for former WR and now deceased Aaron Hernandez. The movements allowed the Patriots, who were at the low end of space to now walk away with roughly $7.8 mil in space.
Belichick and the Pats front office don’t necessarily need it, but it can become extremely helpful if they need to bolster the roster with another key player or to ensure they can adequately assume that Newton will perhaps hit the performance bonuses in his deal.
With the likelihood that due to revenue losses and CBA restricting aspects that the salary cap for 2021 will perhaps be lower than this year, the extra finances could come in benefit to holding on to free agents or providing funding for Franchise Tags in the off-season to work on new longer term deals.
There’s also a strong possibility that along with the restructured Rex Burkhead deal that we saw this week, we could see a few extensions of primary line players such as Joe Thuney, who has been a staple on the line since arriving in Foxboro.
Burkhead, restructured the final year of his contract the other day to take his salary from $2.5 mil to $1.05 mil while obtaining a $550k signing bonus and adding on the potential for another $440k in roster performance incentives. Not to mention, if the Pats perform as they have normally, even without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, he could pick up team bonuses for another AFC East title and a playoff game.
The Patriots may also be able to alleviate even more cap space with the potential contract extension to the aforementioned Thuney. Moving his contract to a 2-year deal at a salary of $4.5 mil for 2020 and $8.5 mil for 2021 with a prorated $12 mil signing bonus ($6mil per year) and a 2022 Franchise Tag at $18mil, would actually net the Patriots another $3.7 mil in cap space on the current year.
The potential of the Pats going into the training camp and first week of the season sitting on $11 mil of money to spend ($6 mil of it realistically needs to be sat on for Cam Newtown’s bonuses) could be enough to bolster the defensive line by signing, say perhaps a free-agent DE Jadveon Clowney?
Only time over the next few months will tell, but certainly Belichick and the Kraft’s, who have been the masters of numbers (doing more with less) for two decades now, are at it again.
As my journalistic idol Rachel Maddow says, “watch this space”.