NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

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    Offseason Moves for the Cap- NEPDraft

    NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    Now that the 2013 season is officially in the books, it means the entire football world turns their attention to the off-season. Player movement, trades, free agency, and the draft will all be front and center for the next four months.

    For the Patriots it’s as important of an off-season that I can remember, at least as important as 2007 and 2009 when the Patriots completely retooled their offense.

    Any plans and changes for the organization are contingent on cap space and the money available to be flexible. Here is a look inside the Patriots cap situation, where they stand, and how they can create money.

     

    *This is part I in my off-season previews where I will lay out the game plan for what needs to happen, the available resources, my predictions, and a mock off-season blueprint.

    Every off-season it seems comical when fans of NFL teams begin freaking out because their team only has “a few million” to spend in free agency or that they believe the lack of cap space will handicap the teams ability to improve. That’s just not the case. In the NFL the salary cap is a defined number that can’t be surpassed (likely to be 126.3 million this year), but unlike other sports it can be much easier to manipulate the cap and contracts than in a sport that has guaranteed contracts.

    As the 2014 off-season starts, I’ve already been bombarded with e-mails and tweets complaining that the Patriots don’t have the cap space to make a “big move” or get better. False. The available cap space numbers right now mean very little and as you’ll see in this article there are plenty of ways to create more space by restructuring contracts and cutting players.

    It’s important to remember in the NFL that guaranteed contracts don’t exist. The only money a player is guaranteed is the money they receive in signing, roster, or workout bonuses. This makes is possible for teams to restructure player contracts by converting base salary to signing bonuses which can be spread out among the remaining years of a deal (up to 5 years). This will be important to keep in mind this off-season as the Patriots have a few players likely to be restructured, and a few players that don’t make sense to restructure for various reasons.

    Where they stand today:

    According to Miguel’s Patriots Salary Cap page, which can be seen (here), the Patriots will enter the 2014 off-season with just about 7.3 million in cap space. This number includes carry over from 2013 and is based on a final cap number of 126.3 million dollars. That 7 million is before any cuts, signings, or tendering of contracts.

    The exact number of these contracts and their cap savings are available on other sites, but due to rules like top 51, and more complex rules all of these numbers are general estimates just to give readers an idea of where the Patriots stand.

    Where they Can Create Space:

    As discussed above, restructuring contracts and cutting a player doesn’t mean that all of the players money comes off the cap. What ever guaranteed money is left on the contract will remain and be spread out over the life of the contract. It’s also important to remember that only the Top 51 contracts count against the cap at this point of the league year.

    So if a player in the top 51 is released, another contract takes it’s place which is usually $495,000 dollars. With that being said, there are some very obvious and likely roster moves that can be made to free up easy money.

    1) Release Isaac Sopoaga

    Cap Hit: 3,500,000 – Dead Money: 1,000,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $ 2.005 million dollars

    2) Release Dan Connolly

    Cap Hit: $4,083,000 – Dead Money: $1,083,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $2.500 million dollars

    3) Release Adrian Wilson

    Cap Hit: $1,883,000 – Dead Money: $666,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $722,000

    Total Savings: $5,227,00 + $7,330,000 = Total Cap Space: $12,557,000

    There are another couple players that can be released to create cap space, whether they are released or not these contracts are likely to be altered.

    1) Release Tommy Kelly

    Cap Hit: $3,000,000 – Dead Money: $500,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $2,005,000

    2) Release Steve Gregory 

    Cap Hit: $3,183,000 – Dead Money: $833,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $1,855,000

    Total Savings: $3,860,000 + $12,557,000 = Total Cap Space: $16,417,000

    Just by releasing those five players the Patriots more than double their available cap space. While they’d have to replace five roster players, none of those players would greatly change the structure or success of the team.

    The next set of roster moves are a bit tougher to project and breakdown. I’ll try to run through them quickly.

    Player Re-signings:

    1) Devin McCourty: Without going into too much detail if the Patriots resign McCourty to a 4-5 year deal, it’s very likely they’d reduce his cap hit anywhere between 2.0 – 3.0 million dollars. For the purpose of this let’s call it $2,500,000 in additional cap space created.

    2) Stephen Gostkowski: Gostkowski has a cap hit of 3.8 million dollars and is in the final year of his deal, making it very likely his contract is redone. By extending Gostkowski 3 or 4 years they can reduce his 2014 cap salary by at least $1.2 million dollars. Let’s assume the number is reduced by $1,200,000.

    Total Savings: Approx. $3,700,000 + $16,417,000 = Total Cap Space: $20,117,000

    Without even restructuring players that are currently signed the Patriots already have over 20 million in cap space. Now this is where it gets tricky. Basically the Patriots have three big salaries they could restructure and possibly a fourth (Gronkowski), but I feel that one is more unlikely. Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, and Jerod Mayo are the three biggest contracts that could be restructured.

    Restructurings

    1) Vince Wilfork: Wilfork is the biggest decision when it comes to creating cap space because A) Has a massive cap hit (11.6 million) and Base Salary (7.5 milion) B) He is in the last year of his deal C) Can free up the most money and D) Is coming off injury. According to PatsCap, there are three possible scenarios to deal with Wilfork.

    A) Release Wilfork: Creates just over $7,500,000 million in cap space. If the Patriots want to rebuild this position through free agency, the draft, and they young guys on the roster this is the easiest move to create cap space. Releasing Wilfork and then re-signing him could be a possibility.

    B) Extending his Contract: If Wilfork is extended for 2 seasons they could move 6 million of his 7.5 million in salary to future years and frees up $4,000,000 in additional cap space.

    C) Convert his 2014 Salary to Performance Bonus: This is an option I initially overlooked and it might be the most plausible, if Wilfork is willing to work with the team. Converting 3.5-4.0 million of his base salary to performance bonuses would save the team between 3.5-4.0 dollars.

    For the sake of this article lets say they either resign or convert his salary to bonuses and save $4,000,000 in cap space. That said, I don’t rule out the release scenario.

    2) Logan Mankins: 

    Mankins Base Salary: $6,250,000 + Signing Bonus: $4,000,000 + Misc. Bonus: $250,000 = Cap Hit: $10,500,000

    The move here is to have Mankins convert a large chunk of his base salary to signing bonus and push it to future years. I’d estimate if they do this the number would likely be $4,250,000 making his base number $2,000,000 this year.

    3) Jerod Mayo

    Mayo Base Salary: $3,250,000 + Signing Bonus: $1,200,000 + Misc Bonus: $2,387,500 = Cap Hit: $7,287,500

    I’m not convinced that need to or will restructure Mayo this year as his base salary increases greatly in the next few years. If they chose to restructure, they could convert $2,250,00 to bonus money. Creating a cap savings of $2,250,000.

    Total Savings (Mankins + Wilfork): $8,250,000 + $20,117,000 = Total Cap Space: $28,367,000

     

    Conclusion:

    As laid out the Patriots have multiple ways to create plenty of cap space to play with this off-season. If they follow all of the options above they will be under the cap by approx. $28.367 million dollars.

    This cap space will go quickly. They need to keep some money aside to sign draft picks (4 million),  field a practice squad (1.7 million),  and leave some extra room for in-season emergencies or roster moves. When these things are totaled it’s likely 8 million of that money is put aside right away for those purposes.

    This leaves them with just about $20.367 million dollars to use as they like. Plenty of money to make any roster moves they need to field a better team in 2014. Signing Aqib Talib will take up 4-6 million in base salary for 2014 and even after that they have plenty of money. Keep in mind when they sign players in the off-season, the numbers aren’t what they seem. The guaranteed money is what matters, teams usually structure the first year with a manageable base salary to fit them in. Based on my calculations and personal feelings, the Patriots have plenty of options and money to be active this off-season.

    It’s an entirely different discussion to debate how and if the Patriots choose to use that free money. Stay tuned for my thoughts on that in future off-season previews.

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from sportsbozo1. Show sportsbozo1's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    In response to joepatsfan111111's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    Now that the 2013 season is officially in the books, it means the entire football world turns their attention to the off-season. Player movement, trades, free agency, and the draft will all be front and center for the next four months.

    For the Patriots it’s as important of an off-season that I can remember, at least as important as 2007 and 2009 when the Patriots completely retooled their offense.

    Any plans and changes for the organization are contingent on cap space and the money available to be flexible. Here is a look inside the Patriots cap situation, where they stand, and how they can create money.

     

    *This is part I in my off-season previews where I will lay out the game plan for what needs to happen, the available resources, my predictions, and a mock off-season blueprint.

    Every off-season it seems comical when fans of NFL teams begin freaking out because their team only has “a few million” to spend in free agency or that they believe the lack of cap space will handicap the teams ability to improve. That’s just not the case. In the NFL the salary cap is a defined number that can’t be surpassed (likely to be 126.3 million this year), but unlike other sports it can be much easier to manipulate the cap and contracts than in a sport that has guaranteed contracts.

    As the 2014 off-season starts, I’ve already been bombarded with e-mails and tweets complaining that the Patriots don’t have the cap space to make a “big move” or get better. False. The available cap space numbers right now mean very little and as you’ll see in this article there are plenty of ways to create more space by restructuring contracts and cutting players.

    It’s important to remember in the NFL that guaranteed contracts don’t exist. The only money a player is guaranteed is the money they receive in signing, roster, or workout bonuses. This makes is possible for teams to restructure player contracts by converting base salary to signing bonuses which can be spread out among the remaining years of a deal (up to 5 years). This will be important to keep in mind this off-season as the Patriots have a few players likely to be restructured, and a few players that don’t make sense to restructure for various reasons.

    Where they stand today:

    According to Miguel’s Patriots Salary Cap page, which can be seen (here), the Patriots will enter the 2014 off-season with just about 7.3 million in cap space. This number includes carry over from 2013 and is based on a final cap number of 126.3 million dollars. That 7 million is before any cuts, signings, or tendering of contracts.

    The exact number of these contracts and their cap savings are available on other sites, but due to rules like top 51, and more complex rules all of these numbers are general estimates just to give readers an idea of where the Patriots stand.

    Where they Can Create Space:

    As discussed above, restructuring contracts and cutting a player doesn’t mean that all of the players money comes off the cap. What ever guaranteed money is left on the contract will remain and be spread out over the life of the contract. It’s also important to remember that only the Top 51 contracts count against the cap at this point of the league year.

    So if a player in the top 51 is released, another contract takes it’s place which is usually $495,000 dollars. With that being said, there are some very obvious and likely roster moves that can be made to free up easy money.

    1) Release Isaac Sopoaga

    Cap Hit: 3,500,000 – Dead Money: 1,000,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $ 2.005 million dollars

    2) Release Dan Connolly

    Cap Hit: $4,083,000 – Dead Money: $1,083,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $2.500 million dollars

    3) Release Adrian Wilson

    Cap Hit: $1,883,000 – Dead Money: $666,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $722,000

    Total Savings: $5,227,00 + $7,330,000 = Total Cap Space: $12,557,000

    There are another couple players that can be released to create cap space, whether they are released or not these contracts are likely to be altered.

    1) Release Tommy Kelly

    Cap Hit: $3,000,000 – Dead Money: $500,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $2,005,000

    2) Release Steve Gregory 

    Cap Hit: $3,183,000 – Dead Money: $833,000 – Top 51: $495,000 = Cap Savings: $1,855,000

    Total Savings: $3,860,000 + $12,557,000 = Total Cap Space: $16,417,000

    Just by releasing those five players the Patriots more than double their available cap space. While they’d have to replace five roster players, none of those players would greatly change the structure or success of the team.

    The next set of roster moves are a bit tougher to project and breakdown. I’ll try to run through them quickly.

    Player Re-signings:

    1) Devin McCourty: Without going into too much detail if the Patriots resign McCourty to a 4-5 year deal, it’s very likely they’d reduce his cap hit anywhere between 2.0 – 3.0 million dollars. For the purpose of this let’s call it $2,500,000 in additional cap space created.

    2) Stephen Gostkowski: Gostkowski has a cap hit of 3.8 million dollars and is in the final year of his deal, making it very likely his contract is redone. By extending Gostkowski 3 or 4 years they can reduce his 2014 cap salary by at least $1.2 million dollars. Let’s assume the number is reduced by $1,200,000.

    Total Savings: Approx. $3,700,000 + $16,417,000 = Total Cap Space: $20,117,000

    Without even restructuring players that are currently signed the Patriots already have over 20 million in cap space. Now this is where it gets tricky. Basically the Patriots have three big salaries they could restructure and possibly a fourth (Gronkowski), but I feel that one is more unlikely. Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, and Jerod Mayo are the three biggest contracts that could be restructured.

    Restructurings

    1) Vince Wilfork: Wilfork is the biggest decision when it comes to creating cap space because A) Has a massive cap hit (11.6 million) and Base Salary (7.5 milion) B) He is in the last year of his deal C) Can free up the most money and D) Is coming off injury. According to PatsCap, there are three possible scenarios to deal with Wilfork.

    A) Release Wilfork: Creates just over $7,500,000 million in cap space. If the Patriots want to rebuild this position through free agency, the draft, and they young guys on the roster this is the easiest move to create cap space. Releasing Wilfork and then re-signing him could be a possibility.

    B) Extending his Contract: If Wilfork is extended for 2 seasons they could move 6 million of his 7.5 million in salary to future years and frees up $4,000,000 in additional cap space.

    C) Convert his 2014 Salary to Performance Bonus: This is an option I initially overlooked and it might be the most plausible, if Wilfork is willing to work with the team. Converting 3.5-4.0 million of his base salary to performance bonuses would save the team between 3.5-4.0 dollars.

    For the sake of this article lets say they either resign or convert his salary to bonuses and save $4,000,000 in cap space. That said, I don’t rule out the release scenario.

    2) Logan Mankins: 

    Mankins Base Salary: $6,250,000 + Signing Bonus: $4,000,000 + Misc. Bonus: $250,000 = Cap Hit: $10,500,000

    The move here is to have Mankins convert a large chunk of his base salary to signing bonus and push it to future years. I’d estimate if they do this the number would likely be $4,250,000 making his base number $2,000,000 this year.

    3) Jerod Mayo

    Mayo Base Salary: $3,250,000 + Signing Bonus: $1,200,000 + Misc Bonus: $2,387,500 = Cap Hit: $7,287,500

    I’m not convinced that need to or will restructure Mayo this year as his base salary increases greatly in the next few years. If they chose to restructure, they could convert $2,250,00 to bonus money. Creating a cap savings of $2,250,000.

    Total Savings (Mankins + Wilfork): $8,250,000 + $20,117,000 = Total Cap Space: $28,367,000

     

    Conclusion:

    As laid out the Patriots have multiple ways to create plenty of cap space to play with this off-season. If they follow all of the options above they will be under the cap by approx. $28.367 million dollars.

    This cap space will go quickly. They need to keep some money aside to sign draft picks (4 million),  field a practice squad (1.7 million),  and leave some extra room for in-season emergencies or roster moves. When these things are totaled it’s likely 8 million of that money is put aside right away for those purposes.

    This leaves them with just about $20.367 million dollars to use as they like. Plenty of money to make any roster moves they need to field a better team in 2014. Signing Aqib Talib will take up 4-6 million in base salary for 2014 and even after that they have plenty of money. Keep in mind when they sign players in the off-season, the numbers aren’t what they seem. The guaranteed money is what matters, teams usually structure the first year with a manageable base salary to fit them in. Based on my calculations and personal feelings, the Patriots have plenty of options and money to be active this off-season.

    It’s an entirely different discussion to debate how and if the Patriots choose to use that free money. Stay tuned for my thoughts on that in future off-season previews.

    [/QUOTE] Pretty much where I thought they would try to reach, because if they can get to 28 mil they can upgrade three positions DT,SS,OL,and maybe have a little left over for another receiver whether it's a TE or WR.


     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from PatsEng. Show PatsEng's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    Pretty much echo's what all of us have been saying

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from Muzwell. Show Muzwell's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    Not sure about cutting Connolly? Restructure maybe, but he's at least serviceable. Wilson too, I don't see any harm in bringing him to camp, there's not much savings there and at least a chance he can help the team.

     
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    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    In response to PatsEng's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Pretty much echo's what all of us have been saying

    [/QUOTE]


    yep, really why i posted it just to show people who get paid are saying exactly what we are

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from joepatsfan111111. Show joepatsfan111111's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    In response to Muzwell's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Not sure about cutting Connolly? Restructure maybe, but he's at least serviceable. Wilson too, I don't see any harm in bringing him to camp, there's not much savings there and at least a chance he can help the team.

    [/QUOTE]


    depends on the draft and FA. Wilson was doubting playing earlier.. no drive= cut. Connolly I agree, its always nice to have OL depth

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from TFB12. Show TFB12's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    In response to Muzwell's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Not sure about cutting Connolly? Restructure maybe, but he's at least serviceable. Wilson too, I don't see any harm in bringing him to camp, there's not much savings there and at least a chance he can help the team.

    [/QUOTE]


    I agree with you on both these Muzwell.

     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from m. a. pat. Show m. a. pat's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    Good post Joe.

    Connolly is a tough call for me. He's versatile in being able to play guard and center but I don't think he's anything more than an average player that's getting paid too much.

    I put Connolly and Arrington in the same category as average and being overpaid but in Arrington's case the Pats are stuck with him through 2014 because of the cap number and dead money.

     

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from rkarp. Show rkarp's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    But what is left unsaid, is that only $12M of the above is in the Pats hands. They can release Soap, Connolly and Wilson. The other moves of restructure and resign involve the player also agreeing to the terms, which is not a given. 

    Additionally, ask yourself does the move weaken the team? IMO, cutting Connolly does. He is clearly currently one of the top 5 OL on the team, and cutting Connolly and not signing Wendell creates 2 open spots on the line. I prefer to view the OL as 5 spots with 8 interchangeable options on game day. Surely Connolly and Wendell fall into that 4,5,6 slot of the 8 options for the OL. Losing those 2 spots really weakens the OL.

    Ditto Kelly. I loved what I saw from Kelly. I was appreciative of what Vellano and Jones gave to the team, but their play was inferior and an upgrade is clearly needed. I can see the Pats keeping Vince, Kelly, Armstead, Silv and Draft a DT. That leaves no spot for Vellano or Jones. 

    I agree with Loyko. I hope to restructure Vince, Mankins, Mayo. I think it is crucial to resign Ghost. But the reality is that they all have to agree, it is not only in the hands of the pats

     
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    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    In response to m. a. pat's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    Good post Joe.

    Connolly is a tough call for me. He's versatile in being able to play guard and center but I don't think he's anything more than an average player that's getting paid too much.

    I put Connolly and Arrington in the same category as average and being overpaid but in Arrington's case the Pats are stuck with him through 2014 because of the cap number and dead money.

     

    [/QUOTE]


    Well stated and right on the money as well....

     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from Muzwell. Show Muzwell's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    In response to rkarp's comment:
    [QUOTE]

    But what is left unsaid, is that only $12M of the above is in the Pats hands. They can release Soap, Connolly and Wilson. The other moves of restructure and resign involve the player also agreeing to the terms, which is not a given. 

    Additionally, ask yourself does the move weaken the team? IMO, cutting Connolly does. He is clearly currently one of the top 5 OL on the team, and cutting Connolly and not signing Wendell creates 2 open spots on the line. I prefer to view the OL as 5 spots with 8 interchangeable options on game day. Surely Connolly and Wendell fall into that 4,5,6 slot of the 8 options for the OL. Losing those 2 spots really weakens the OL.

    Ditto Kelly. I loved what I saw from Kelly. I was appreciative of what Vellano and Jones gave to the team, but their play was inferior and an upgrade is clearly needed. I can see the Pats keeping Vince, Kelly, Armstead, Silv and Draft a DT. That leaves no spot for Vellano or Jones. 

    I agree with Loyko. I hope to restructure Vince, Mankins, Mayo. I think it is crucial to resign Ghost. But the reality is that they all have to agree, it is not only in the hands of the pats

    [/QUOTE]

    I like the cut and resign route for Vince, maybe for Kelly too since he's definitely not getting any big offers coming off an ACL. I just don't see extending VW at his age, for three or four years. They can restructure Connolly, I don't see cutting him. 

    I don't extend Mankins either. Play out his last year and see where he's at when it's over.  

     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from guesmem2011. Show guesmem2011's posts

    Re: NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

    In depth analysis above.  I think they will:

    1) Draft for value (Walmart dumpster dive)

    2) Sign whatever cheap free-agents they can

    3) Talk about how it's all about the team, while the coach still chases personal vendettas

    4) Go another year (10 and counting) without developing a shutdown defense (Would have gotten any other coach fired)

    5) Hire another staff assistant who is willing to work for the 1975 equivalent of $35/week (So the coach can get his jollies)

    6) If all else fails - copy whatever the latest NFL fad is.  After all, that was the coaching "genius'" approach after not beating the Colts.  

     

    In other words, just do what they've been doing the past few years.....Why would the thinking change?

     

     
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