The New England Patriots pride themselves on being a smart organization. Making intelligent decisions that help the team does not stop at the field’s white boundary lines, it also extends to the front office. By focusing on value and treating the business as what it is, New England has been able to become not only the best but also the best managed team in the NFL.
The 2016 season, which ended with the franchise's fifth Super Bowl title, is a perfect example for that. New England traded away supposed core players, acquired other teams' castoffs and locked up some of its own talent. All while trying to maximize value as well as possible.
What the team has also been able to do along the way, thanks to making smart personnel decisions, is minimize the impact former players have on the salary cap. Added up, New England has a dead money hit of $1,684,560 (via patscap.com) – the eighth-lowest number in the league and well below the NFL average of $5.4 million.
Overall, 17 players contribute to the Patriots' dead money pool. Their individual salary cap hits range from wide receiver Keshawn Martin's team-leading $300,000 to the $1,667 the team still owes tight end Bryce Williams and defensive tackle Woodrow Hamilton.
Hamilton, interestingly enough, is one of four members of New England's current roster who simultaneously hit the team's cap as "dead weight". Defensive edge Geneo Grissom ($290,974), wide receiver Devin Lucien ($64,059) and running back D.J. Foster ($3,334) are the other players counting against the Patriots' salary cap both passively and actively. Why? Because all four were released at one point after originally joining the team.
All in all, New England’s dead money sum is yet another example that illustrates how well the team manages the salary cap and its player contracts.