The Patriots are a controversial franchise outside of New England and most, if not all of that controversy stems from the insane amount of success they've had in the past decade....even when they're unbalanced and flawed they're still better than almost every other team.
I can live with a healthy dose of pre-teen jealously from outsiders but what bothers me is the division from within. I've heard the same argument for some time now, here's how it goes;
"Look at how the Patriots treat their elite players when it comes to sign them to long-term contracts, and look how timid they are in Free-Agency %90 of the time in, they are so CHEAP!".
The response to such a FoxNews type claim is a swift and accurate strike to the jugular of the assailant by any Pats fan or responsible sports journalist who can read and write. HOWEVER, the issue arises once again and this time I'm concerned that the hysterical haters may have finally landed a footing from which to anchor an otherwise childish and mundane opinion.
See what the hell I'm talking about after the jump.I've spent a considerable amount of time trying dig up information on just exactly how much cap space the Patriots will have in 2012. The number fluctuated greatly depending on the source, some say it was $18-million, some $24-million, some $32-million and some say we could have close to $40-million in cap space.
During the research process an interesting nugget arose, apparently the new CBA allows for teams to rollover any cap space from 2011 as a cap credit in 2012. One of my favorite sources for all things Pats Cap related comes from none other than PatsCap.com. A gentleman who goes by the name of Miguel does a superb job of tracking most transactions and offers very accurate cap numbers for the Pats. At the end of last year he had the Pats under the cap by $10-million and there was an additional $3-million available in veteran exemption clauses. I tend to align myself with Miguel because of how reliable he's been in recent years but it is worth mentioning that most sources have the Pats at ~$6-million of 2011 space to roll over.
Another source I like is Spotrac.com, they track all transactions for all sports and they seem to stay updated with the most current tags and extensions. Before I get into their number for the Pats we should establish where the Pats are in terms of current contracts. With 17 free-agents the Pats were estimated to be $20-million under the cap prior to signing off on rolling over their 2011 cap space. I believe there have been a handful of cuts and possible retirements so that number was climbing into the 30's prior to Welker's tag designation of ~$9.5-million.
Spotrac seemed to confirm this information as last week I saw that the Pats were $34-million under the cap AND it seemed as though Welker's tag number was already included in that figure. In the following days that number fell to $23-million.
Now, one of two things has happened here; Despite being listed alongside the other 36 contracts the Pats have, the Welker tag number had yet to be incorporated into the total cap figure. The other possibility is that the Pats chose NOT to rollover what I believe is ~$10million in cap space from 2011.
As of now, I'm inclined to believe that the Welker tag number was correctly listed and incorporated into that $34-million, and therefore the $23-million listed some days later was also accurate...the causal agent here seems to be that the deadline for rolling over 2011 cap space had come and gone, and the Patriots have chosen NOT to rollover some $10-million.
A long and drawn out explanation for what is an otherwise simple concept, I apologize. I feel this issue is important enough to dissect to the N-th degree because if the Pats fall short of signing someone say of the caliber of Johnathan Joseph in 2011, or fall short of signing a WR like Brandon Lloyd or other valuable pieces on Defense...it could be yet another season where the Pats fall short of making just one average play to secure their place in history.
That's something that all Pats fans should care about, and if my spidey-sense is right, and I'm hoping it's not, the Pats might have chosen to pocket a few bucks rather than solidify their rank as the best team in NFL history.
Here's hoping I'm wrong, please offer your opinions and insights.