The NFL’s free agency is only three days away, but with a new collective bargaining agreement ratified, the league finally sent out a memo to all 32 of its member clubs today informing them about the salary cap numbers for the 2020 season. As first reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league and representatives from the NFL Players Association opted to set this year’s cap at $198.2 million — a $10 million jump from last year.
As a result of the salary cap number being officially announced, we now also know how many available resources the New England Patriots have this offseason to operate with. According to calculations by patscap.com’s Miguel Benzan, the reigning AFC East champions are under the cap exactly $25,426,286 million. When comparing this number to the rest of the league, the Patriots rank just 22nd overall (via OverTheCap.com).
Considering that the team has a long list of players scheduled to enter free agency next week — one that includes quarterback Tom Brady and safety Devin McCourty — it will likely try to increase its cap space by either releasing or restructuring/extending multiple players in the upcoming hours. In fact, New England could create an additional $11 million by letting four specific members of the roster go.
The team could also create another $15 million in cap space by extending cornerback Stephon Gilmore and linebacker Dont’a Hightower. What should the Patriots do that is the aforementioned CBA, because it eliminates the so-called “30 percent rule” which would effectively have prohibited teams from back-loading contracts or doing salary-to-signing-bonus conversions in order to create short-term salary cap space.