The Salary cap rose about what I expected to 123 million, but that is 1.5-2 million above what many whispers from the NFL indicated. I thought it might be even higher despite rumors. Lets be clear, I did not have inside information and I did not know what exactly it would be set at. I had one key reason I believed it would be an increase of 2.5-4 million. Partly its because a flat cap is not realistic in such a competitive salary environment, but the bigger part was that as many if not more teams then usual were over the cap. It was taken to another level by the Redskins and Cowboys being penalized cap space for violating a non existent salary cap a few years ago. Without going too deep into that I think the NFL and Goodell made as big a mistake with the non existent salary cap situation as they did bountygate. Not as big a PR problem with public, but given how tough it was to come to terms with NFLPA and owners agreeing on a cap a few years ago, and allowing an uncapped year, to then find out that the owners were negotiating in secret to have a defacto cap for an uncapped year is problematic and likely disturbing to players and outside observers who deal in such work. The NFL has an anti trust exemption but it does not exempt them from fraud or certain types of collusion plus other violations of law. Even after doing such an underhanded thing the irony is the owners and Goodell would have barely been called on it if they hadn't then had the chutzpah and hypocrisy to penalize the Skins and Boys for violating the non existent cap(it was said there was a whisper number of 125). Instead they were so foolish as to acknowledge they had a backroom deal to violate the terms under which they negotiated with the NFLPA by penalizing these teams which put them on record admitting to violating the spirit and word of the agreement with the players. If they had left the Skins and Cowboys alone this whole matter would have never been more then accusations and a few people hinting it happened. In any event the cap problems created by this for several teams, combined with the legal leverage this could give the NFLPA if they do decide to press the issue IMO adds up to caps rising a bit more then some thought for the next couple of years.
This means the Pats have more like 28 million in free cap space with the Brady restructure and if they drop Lloyd 33 million or so(more if they drop Fells, etc). That is enough to not only keep Welker, Talib, and Vollmer, but to also grab a Wallace, Bowe, etc or for sure a lower end WR, and take a shot at Reed.
This will theoretically help the teams just about evenly, though likely the ones over much more since then every dollar has to be measured perfectly. It will soften the blow a little for the Ravens/Jets, etc though on the other hand it further cements the Patriots ability to go out and build the roster they want in FA complimented by draft. If there has ever been a time to grab a Wallace or other high profile WR like Harvin its now.
At least they now will be able to keep Welker if they choose along with Lloyd and add someone else, or sans Lloyd plus a big time WR like Harvin or Wallace. They can keep Talib, and if a miracle happens and they make a deal with Jets for Revis they could even afford to do that. If they do that though they may have to compliment Welker primarily with Lloyd, Stallworth, and a drafted WR or two to not cut it too tight.
Godspeed to the Patriots getting a big time WR and Safety to compliment an already great team, plus keeping their CBs and adding at least one more is my hope. If they don't get Harvin I really think they need to make a play for Bowe or Wallace. Then continuing to build and winning at least 2-3 more Lombardi's before Brady retires.