The NFL offseason is picking up steam as the scouting combine will take place over the next few days before the new league year and free agency start in two weeks. And with 2018 officially approaching for the 32 clubs, the need for a definitive salary cap number grows. As things stand right now, teams are only working with projections as the NFL and NFL Players Association try to finalize the cap for the upcoming year.
According to a recent report by Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the cap is expected to grow significantly once again: While it was set at $167 million just a year ago, this year's cap will reportedly be at least $178 million and could also exceed $179 million. During league meetings in mid-December, the NFL projected the cap to rise more moderately to somewhere between $174.2 and $178.1 million. However, as the past has shown, the projections regularly underestimate the actual growth of the cap.
The New England Patriots, according to OverTheCap.com, have current top-51 cap commitments of $162.4 million. Together with a carryover of roughly $3 million this would leave the team with around $19 million in available cap space to sign rookies and (re-)sign upcoming free agents including core players like Danny Amendola, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, Nate Solder, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner and, at least in theory, Malcolm Butler.
However, the Patriots' salary cap is expected to still change over the next two weeks as first players get re-signed and contracts are either extended or restructured. No matter how high the salary cap ceiling will ultimately be set, New England should have plenty of space to operate under it.