Plenty of teams will have cap issues in 2021, if the salary cap drops to $175 million as a result of financial losses due to pandemic football. The Patriots will not have cap issues in 2021, if the cap plummets by nearly $25 million per team.
As Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston noted last month, the Patriots have only $124 million in cap commitments for 2021, with 55 players under contract.
Curran made that observation before the Patriots signed quarterback Cam Newton, whose $5.75 million in incentives would, if earned, be charged against the 2021 cap. Since signing Newton, however, the Patriots also have gained $7 million in cap space via the resolution of grievances filed by Antonio Brown and Aaron Hernandez.
Even if that $7 million is devoted to pandemic replacements, and even if Newton earns every penny of his incentives (which mean that the Patriots will have won the Super Bowl in 2020), the Patriots would still have $45 million in cap space, under the minimum cap of $175 million.
Not only does that give the Patriots the ability to keep the team they have but also to target veterans who will be cut in 2021 by teams scrambling to get under a dramatically lower cap, the first reduction since the $123 million cap in 2009 became $120 million in 2011, with an uncapped year sandwiched in between.