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NFL sets 2021 salary cap at $182.5 million; Patriots rank third in cap space

Related: Franchise tag deadline passes without Patriots making a move

US Dollars Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

Update 3/10/2021: NFL sets 2021 salary cap at $182.5 million; Patriots rank third in cap space

After an earlier report that the salary cap will “almost definitely” be set at $182.5 million this year, the league has now officially announced that number for the 2021 season. For the Patriots, this means that they are $64.49 million under that number — giving them the third most cap space in the league behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars ($71.8M) and the New York Jets ($67.3M).

Original story 3/10/2021: Report: NFL will ‘almost definitely’ set 2021 salary cap at $182.5 million

Even though the franchise tag deadline came and went, no official salary cap number has been announced to the NFL’s 32 organizations just yet. Negotiations between the league and the players union about where to set the cap for the upcoming season are nearing an end, however, with one recent report putting the spending threshold at $182.5 million.

The cap will “almost definitely” be set at that mark, according to Pro Football Talk, meaning that the financial impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had on each team’s spending capabilities was apparently calculated at $15.7 million: that is how much the cap — if that final number indeed turns out to be accurate — will decrease compared to where it was set last season ($198.2 million).

Regardless of where the salary cap ends up being set, we already know that the New England Patriots will be among the league leaders in cap space available. While the recent trade to acquire Trent Brown will bring that number down a notch, the Patriots are currently projected to be $64.49 million under a league-wide cap of $182.5 million based on calculations by Miguel Benzan.

At the moment, only two teams — the Jacksonville Jaguars ($71.8M) and New York Jets ($67.3M) — have more money available one week ahead of the official start of free agency. On the other end of that spectrum are 11 clubs who are still projected to be over the cap at this point in time.

Per NFL rules, all 32 franchises need to be below the cap once the new league year gets kicked off on March 17. Accordingly, plenty of restructures and cuts are expected to happen over the coming days.

Going back to the $182.5 million cap number, it is only slightly above the spending floor that the NFL and the NFLPA agreed upon earlier this year. However, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith sent a letter to the players on Tuesday expressing confidence that the cap will bounce back in the future (via NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero):

With the expected increases in broadcast revenues, a belief that our stadiums can be full again in the full as our nation resumes to normal and other new sources of revenue, our expectation is to have cap growth again in the coming years.

The Patriots, at the moment, have 24 players signed beyond the 2021 season. A 25th, safety Devin McCourty, will see his contract void next spring.