How Patriots can cash in on ‘unprecedented' NFL salary cap increase

How Patriots can cash in on ‘unprecedented' NFL salary cap increase originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots will have even more "cash to burn" than expected.

The NFL announced Friday that each club's 2024 salary cap will be set at $255.4 million, a massive $30 million increase from 2023 that the league described as "unprecedented."

That's obviously great news for every NFL team, but especially for the Patriots, who enter the offseason with critical needs at high-paying positions like quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line.

New England already was projected to have roughly $75 million in cap space -- second-most in the NFL behind the Washington Commanders -- but that number has jumped to $82.9 million thanks to the expanded salary cap, according to OverTheCap. If the team releases troubled cornerback J.C. Jackson, Eliot Wolf and the front office could have more than $100 million in cap space, per Patriots cap expert Miguel Benzan.

For context, the Patriots entered 2021 free agency with roughly $69.1 million in cap space and proceeded with the largest spending spree in franchise history, handing out more than $125 million in guaranteed money to outside linebacker Matt Judon, wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux and cornerback Jalen Mills.

If the team releases Jackson, it could have roughly $30 million more in cap space than that 2021 offseason, which could result in an even bigger splurge. So, how should the Patriots spend that extra cash? Our Patriots Insider Phil Perry recently laid out an eight-part free agency plan that includes the following moves:

Those moves all could be done on a budget of under $90 million, so the extra cash could allow New England to lock up other pending free agents like Bourne, who recently told our Tom E. Curran he wants to remain with the team.

Of course, an increased salary cap means free agents will seek more lucrative deals, in which case the Patriots may not have significantly more money to spend. But it's clear they'll be flush with cash entering free agency and will need to spend it wisely as they aim to overhaul a roster that went 4-13 last season.