Ben Volin of the Boston Globe looks inside the numbers. In the numbers resides the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
As Volin notes, the Patriots had more than $29 million in cap space in early March, even after taking a $13 million dead-money charge following the voiding of quarterback Tom Brady‘s contract. They chose to carry a $14.781 million cap charge for guard Joe Thuney via the franchise tag; they could have signed him to a long-term deal, which would have dropped the cap hit significantly.
Or, alternatively, if this year was supposed to entail some sort of salary-cap reckoning, they could have let Thuney walk away in free agency, picking up a compensatory pick for him in 2021.
Besides, the cap is irrelevant to young players. Any team can utilize the rookie wage scale to draft and develop talent. The Patriots haven’t done that recently, as effectively as it used to.
And the notion that the Patriots “sold out” to pursue championships in past years is nonsense. As Volin notes, the Patriots spent below the league average in seven of the last 10 years. In the four years they went to the Super Bowl since 2014, the Patriots spent below the league average.
The Patriots aren’t and never have been in a cap crunch. That’s not the reason for the current struggles. And, frankly, it only puts more pressure on Belichick to take advantage of the massive cap space the Patriots will have next year, when the league-wide spending limit drops as low as $175 million due to the pandemic — and when other teams may be dropping veteran talent that the Patriots could then pilfer.
If they don’t use their cap space in 2021, it will prove that Belichick’s excuse for 2020 was baloney. If they do and they don’t thrive in 2021, he’ll need a different excuse.
Frankly, he’s the last guy who should even be looking to make excuses, especially excuses that are offensive to the intelligence of the average fan (that barely qualifies me to be offended). Just smile and flash your rings, Bill, like you did when they booed you in Miami, back before the world turned upside down.