Signed to a four-year, $72 million contract extension on September 10, 2010, Brady was scheduled to earn $5.75 million in base salary with a $6 million roster bonus and $250,000 workout bonus this season. Under the restructure, Brady's base salary was reduced to a fully guaranteed $950,000, with the leftover amount ($4.8 million) combined with the roster bonus and converted into a $10.8 million signing bonus that will be prorated over the three remaining years on Brady's contract.
All else is pure speculation, so let's run down the different options of what could possibly happen with the open cap space:
1. Rob Gronkowski extension - Gronk has two seasons left on his contract, but I'm sure the Patriots would like to wrap the All Pro tight end up for a long term deal.
2. Wes Welker extension - The Patriots currently have Welker on a $9.515 million franchise tender and I'm sure they'd like to sign him for a 4 year deal. Perhaps they opened space to front load his new deal.
3. Other 2012 Free Agents - Kyle Arrington, Pat Chung, Julian Edelman, Dane Fletcher (RFA), Kyle Love (RFA), Sterling Moore (ERFA), Myron Pryor, Sebastian Vollmer, Brian Waters, and Danny Woodhead all need new contracts after the 2012 season. All play an integral role on the team. Hopefully the Patriots can start making extensions once these players make it through camp.
Edit: 4. Draft Picks - Greg Bedard says that the Patriots were close to their cap limit and might not have had enough free to pay draft picks.