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Patriots projected to have around $30 million in salary cap space next offseason

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The NFL sent out its salary cap projection for the 2020 season.

Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots

The NFL’s owners meeting took place in Las Colinas, Texas earlier this week and among the points on the agenda also was informing the 32 clubs about the salary cap projection for the 2020 season. And according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, another substantial increase appears to be on the horizon: clubs were notified that the cap is expected to be set “in the range of $196.8 million to $201.2 million” next year.

For comparison, teams have $188.2 million to work with this season. The projected 6.3 percent increase marks the latest major growth in cap space, and reflects how well the league is performing from a financial perspective: if the projections turn out to be accurate — past ones have shown that the cap will likely be set at the upper end or even higher — the cap will have gone up around 40 percent over the five years since the 2015 season.

Setting the cap at around $200 million also means that the New England Patriots will have considerable resources to work with — around $30 million with 51 players under contract, per the Boston Sports Journal’s Miguel Benzan — but they most likely will need every cent they can get when looking at their list of free-agents-to-be: quarterback Tom Brady, safety Devin McCourty, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, and guard Joe Thuney are on their way to hit the open market next offseason.

Brady is easily the biggest name on a list that is 19 names long, and his status will be worth keeping a close eye on before free agency officially opens on March 18: due to his latest restructure that added two void years to the deal, New England is unable to use the franchise tag on the 42-year-old next offseason and will need to work out a new contract to keep him around — all while also not compromising the rest of the roster by letting a considerable portion of the other core players walk.