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2022 NFL free agency: First week leaves Patriots with under $12 million in salary cap space

Related: Report: Patriots free up $1.25 million in cap space by restructuring Henry Anderson’s contract

NFL: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being one of the more quiet teams in the NFL since free agency effectively started last Monday, the New England Patriots’ financial resources are limited. At the moment, according to salary cap expert Miguel Benzan, the Patriots have roughly $11.7 million in cap space as of Monday morning.

That number includes all of the team’s reported transactions at this point in time except the re-signing of Ja’Whaun Bentley. The veteran linebacker returning on a reported two-year deal will naturally decrease New England’s cap space.

Heading into the weekend preceding free agency — one that saw New England make some first transactions — the club had $10.21 million available. Since then, a number of unrestricted free agents, including cornerback J.C. Jackson and guard Ted Karras, was lost on the open market while the team also made some cost-cutting moves.

Guard Shaq Mason was traded to Tampa Bay, while the contract of defensive lineman Henry Anderson was restructured. The only outside additions made have also not had an enormous impact on the Patriots’ books.

And yet, they still find themselves in the bottom third in the NFL in available resources.

Using Miguel’s numbers as well as a comprehensive list provided by Over the Cap, we can see that New England is ranked just 23rd in a league-wide comparison. While that is not necessarily a reason to worry, it creates some questions moving forward.

The Patriots, after all, still have multiple in-house free agents unaccounted for — including linebacker Dont’a Hightower and offensive tackle Trent Brown — and will need to account for other expenses as well. Their draft class will command around $2.6 million given how picks are currently distributed, while the salaries of players No. 52 and 53 on the roster as well as in-season investments also need to be kept in mind.

Nonetheless, 2022 still aligns with previous years as far as carrying cap space into the summer is concerned:

  • 2013: $10 million
  • 2014: $6 million
  • 2015: $8.9 million
  • 2016: $8.9 million
  • 2017: $14.1 million
  • 2018: $8.9 million
  • 2019: $7.5 million
  • 2020: $7.8 million/$33.4 million*
  • 2021: $13.1 million

*the $33.4 million include eight Coronavirus opt-outs

Subtracting the expected cost of the Patriots’ draft class, the team would have no more than $9.1 million in cap space available heading towards training camp. However, that would mean no further outside additions or re-signing players such as Hightower or Brown.

Needless to say that New England still has plenty of work ahead, and it will be fascinating to see what the team’s next steps will look like. A look at our pre-free agency list of cost-saving moves shows that there is still plenty of potential to free up money. Time will tell whether or not the Patriots will do that.

Please make sure to give Miguel Benzan a follow (@patscap) and, if possible, to support his chosen charity: Habitat for Humanity of North Central Connecticut. He is trying to raise $120,000 by the end of the year, and every dollar counts. If you can, please donate here. Thank you.