According to the NFLPA’s public salary cap report, the Patriots lost $4.5 million in cap space since Monday.
Tuesday’s drastic decrease in cap space can presumably be attributed to the repayment of loans taken out against the salary cap in the 2011-2012 seasons. To help ease the transition with the new CBA, the NFL allowed teams to take out cap space loans totaling $4.5 million that must be repaid by the end of the 2017 season.
The taking of the loans by the Patriots has never been officially verified, and still isn’t. However, there are a few clues that now point to Tuesday morning’s events as the culprit behind the lost space:
- The decrease in was not accompanied by an increase in the number of player contracts.
- The decrease was also not accompanied by an increase in the team’s total cap figure.
- $4.5 million is the maximum amount allowed by the league over those two seasons ($3 million in 2011 and $1.5 million in 2012).
- According to salary cap guru Ian Whetstone, a number of teams including the Steelers lost perfectly round cap space figures of $4.5 million, $3 million, and $1.5 million Tuesday morning. The Steelers only owed $1 million this year due to having already paid down $3.5 million of their cap space loan balance in the past.
- I can also personally verify that the Detroit Lions were also among the teams who lost $1.5 million in cap space on Tuesday morning.
Again, repayment of cap space loans has not been verified in any official capacity, but at this point it appears more likely than not that this is the reason for Tuesday’s decrease.
As first reported this past Saturday by Miguel Benzan of patscap.com, the team was credited with $3 million in additional cap space over the weekend. He later reported that, among the many possibilities for the increase, that the NFLPA likely made a clerical mistake and had not counted Alan Branch’s new contract with the team.
Tuesday’s loss of $4.5 million in cap space now leaves the Patriots with $25,201,144 according to the NFLPA, giving them the eighth most in the league.
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