According to USA Today's Tom Pelissero, it looks like the league could be coming to a final decision regarding the salary cap for 2014. Pelissero believes that the number could come out as early as Friday the 28th (tomorrow!), which would give teams roughly ten days to adjust before the free agency period opens on March 11th.
The belief is that the cap will be somewhere between $132mm and $133mm, a near $10mm increase over the 2013 salary cap.
With some important dates coming quickly over the next week, plenty of teams will want to know the salary cap before making their first move.
March 3rd is the final date to designate a franchise player. Teams will be reluctant to tag a high priced player, until the cap is set.
March 8th marks the open for the "legal tampering period", which means that teams are allowed to negotiate with pending unrestricted free agents. With an additional $6mm in cap that most experts weren't expecting, it's possible that the bidding wars can go through the roof- and you can be certain that teams will want to get ahead of the spending and sign players as early as possible.
The Patriots will benefit because the additional cap space will likely allow the Patriots to not only bring back their priority free agent signing (CB Aqib Talib), but will also allow them to shop around for potential depth that might have been out of reach.
The Patriots won't be in the running for top defensive ends, but they'll now be able to fish around for the second (Jared Allen) or third (Robert Ayers) tier free agents. Wide receivers that might have been to big of a risk might now be a drop in the water and allow the front office to take bigger risks in team building.
When the cap is finally in place, I believe the Patriots will be first movers. They've been laying groundwork with Talib and will hopefully have him locked up before the free agents start to increase the prices. The other players that the Patriots will likely be taking in free agency won't be the marquee names and can probably be signed under the radar.