The Patriots' 2024 Off Season Thread

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For cuts, signings, trades and draftees during the off season.

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With the 2023 NFL regular season a wrap, 14 teams remain in the hunt for a Lombardi Trophy, while others are looking ahead to free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft.

Here, we will examine which teams have the most money to spend, as well as ways that teams can free up money. All contract information comes from our friends at Over the Cap.

Using every team’s draft capital (based on the Fitzgerald-Spielberger draft value chart), effective cap space and proratable money, we can create an offseason composite score that evaluates each team’s resources, without looking at each aspect individually.

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We'll start by looking at the two most important offseason variables: draft capital and effective cap space. Effective cap space is a better measurement than regular cap space since it takes into account that a team must have 51 players on its roster. Plotting these two variables together provides a solid look at which teams are set up well in each area.

The Washington Commanders are in a good spot to spend big this offseason, with the second-most effective cap space and the second-most draft capital in the NFL. They can use that money to build their offense around whichever quarterback they likely will select with the No. 2 overall pick. Washington should look to upgrade their offensive line room to protect that signal-caller. Typically, though, good to great offensive tackles don’t hit free agency, as they are usually re-signed, so it might be tricky to navigate that space.

The Tennessee Titans could also be in position to undergo a competitive rebuild with Will Levis on his rookie deal, as they currently have the most effective cap space in the NFL.

The Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins are in interesting spots, both ranking in the bottom three in effective cap space. While the Chargers do have an above-average amount of draft capital, the Dolphins have the second least. Miami made an all-in push this season with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa playing on a rookie contract, but they stumbled at the finish line after once looking like sure-fire lock to win the AFC East.

There is a good chance the Chargers and Dolphins both pushed all their chips in the past two seasons and will have zero playoff wins to show for it.

But effective cap space on its own doesn't tell the whole story. Cap space can be created in many ways, and that number can change for every team as we approach the free agency tampering period in March.

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The above graph shows which teams can free up cap space via restructures. What this means is that any player on the roster for the 2024 season who isn’t on a rookie deal can have their contract restructured to free up cap space. This does a better job of portraying the realities of each NFL team’s cap situation. Even though some teams are above the cap, they have the means to free up space — the Mickey Loomis and Khai Harley special in New Orleans.

Restructurable cap space is how much money a team has tied into base salaries and non-guaranteed roster bonuses. A team can convert up to 80% of those values into prorated salary bonuses.

The Saints have constructed contracts such that they have escape routes, especially in the form of proratable money, which refers to the process of taking a player on a veteran deal and transforming up to 80% of their base salary and roster bonus into a signing bonus. This signing bonus can be spread out over the length of a player’s contract to free up space in the present.

New Orleans can create upward of $122 million simply by restructuring existing veteran contracts. While all $122 million won’t be created, cap wizard Khai Harley has had to do this for years, since the Saints' legendary 2017 draft class that led them to go all-in for three years. However, Father Time might eventually catch up to the franchise, as the Saints had the oldest snap-weighted age of any team in the league this year.

Not many teams have a lot of money to spend and can free up cap space. This shows how NFL front offices like to operate. If they are big spenders and are constantly prorating money during, and after, the season, they most likely set up their contracts to aid that, putting more money into base salaries and non-guaranteed roster bonuses. This also applies to the other side, as there aren’t many teams in “cap hell,” where they have no cap space and no means of creating any.

As shown by the graph, there is also a clear negative correlation between cap space and restructureable cap space. This means that as teams gain more cap space, they are likely to have less restructureable cap space.

While this method works, there is an obvious downside. Front offices can reduce a player's cap hit in a given season, but there is still cash they have to guarantee to that player that they may not have had to in the past.
 
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2/2 The Patriots come in as the team with the 4th best situation with lots of flexibility. Let's use it wisely.

A recent trend in the NFL is using void years when restructuring contracts. A great article by Jack Duffin outlines how spending more cash than the cap is sustainable and can work if a team's owner is willing to shell out the cash to do so. Spreading out cap hits via void years won’t matter as much because of the rising salary cap every year. Thus, a team like the Denver Broncos, who spent a lot of money last offseason, can continue to restructure and include void years, assuming the new ownership is always willing to spend the money,

We’ve looked at the three variables used to see how well each team is set up for the offseason. Now, we'll use these variables to make an “Offseason Composite Score.” We need to set different weights for the variables, and when setting the weights, it is important to realize draft capital matters more than cap space, since draft capital allows teams to effectively save cap space. And even though proratable money can significantly help a team like the Saints, it isn’t as important as the other two variables.


Variable Weight Given
Draft Capital1.5
Effective Cap Space1
Proratable Money0.25

With that, here is the final Offseason Composite Score for every team, broken down by each statistic, with the overall score at the end.

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All five teams at the top missed the playoffs, and at least three of them have quarterback questions to address this offseason. At the bottom, four of the five teams made the playoffs, with the lone exception being the Denver Broncos. It will be interesting to see how Sean Payton and company navigate the quarterback position, given their limited resources and where they pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

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This graph does well to demonstrate which organizations are set up for sustained success. It also shows how tough the Carolina Panthers‘ situation is. Finishing with the worst record in the NFL while also having the seventh-least amount of offseason resources isn’t a great recipe for success. The Chargers and New York Jets are in similar positions, finishing with subpar records, but at least you can say they have their quarterback positions figured out.

The San Francisco 49ers are in a solid position to continue their NFC dominance in 2024. While they don’t have a ton of spending power, ranking 23rd in effective cap space, they do have plenty of draft capital. Figuring out what to do with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk will likely be the top priority, and improving the offensive line to protect quarterback Brock Purdy is another task at hand.

The Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys navigated the 2023 offseason well and ended up with a top-two seed in their respective conferences. They won’t have much to work with heading into the 2024 offseason, but both organizations have shown an ability to build their rosters through the draft, something that should serve them well, given that their quarterbacks make top-of-the-market money.

Thank you to Over the Cap for their outstanding work and for providing the data used in this article.
 
At tackle, I'm an Alt fan, and everyone talks about him and Fashanu. But neither of them are the top OT prospect in my mind, if you're talking ceiling. That is undoubtedly Mims out of Georgia. He hurt his ankle this year, but is an absolute dancing bear.

He ate up the ballyhooed buckeye DEs in 2022. He needs experience and polish, and could potentially bust. But he's the only left tackle in this draft (that I've seen so far) that could be Orlando Pace or Trent Williams.
 
At tackle, I'm an Alt fan, and everyone talks about him and Fashanu. But neither of them are the top OT prospect in my mind, if you're talking ceiling. That is undoubtedly Mims out of Georgia. He hurt his ankle this year, but is an absolute dancing bear.

He ate up the ballyhooed buckeye DEs in 2022. He needs experience and polish, and could potentially bust. But he's the only left tackle in this draft (that I've seen so far) that could be Orlando Pace or Trent Williams.

Alt looks good and so does Fashanu. I love the talent and polish of LT Troy Fautanu of Washington and think he's an outstanding prospect, but smart folks think he might need to
move inside.. I'm not sure he needs to, but there is some definite talent at OT and it looks like a bunch will be first rounders.

This is a pretty good year to be drafting a stud LT type, but a poor one to try and sign one as an FA both talent-wise and in cost. Tyron Smith appears to be the
best player, but he would be expensive and he's got durability issues. That tells me we need two solid OT prospects that won't need years of development.

While I want us to take a top QB prospect at 3, I wouldn't rule out a trade down if we can kill two birds with one stone. It's possible that we could forego the chance to draft Maye or Daniels and end up with J.J. McCarthy and, say, the OT from BYU and whatever WR falls to the top of the 2nd. Or another combination. All I'm saying is that every option is
on the table and should be considered.

Whatever gets us in business is the bottom line.
 
Here is a salary cap calculator from Over the Cap, shows the current players under contract. You can see what it will do to the cap if you cut, trade, or restructure. Also there is a list on the side of the current FA. You can see what it does to the cap if you want to make an offer or tag the player.

New England Patriots Salary Cap Calculator | Over The Cap
 
Just did a little math, 89% of the projected $224.2 million salary cap is like $199.7blahblahblah million, basically $200 million.

Patriots are currently 33 million under this number. Draft picks will get you another 7, maybe. So where is the additional $26 million being spent?
 
Just did a little math, 89% of the projected $224.2 million salary cap is like $199.7blahblahblah million, basically $200 million.

Patriots are currently 33 million under this number. Draft picks will get you another 7, maybe. So where is the additional $26 million being spent?
Mac Jones extension ☕
 
I heard Kingsbury is working for the Bears now. That means we know who they will pick...Williams.
 
Just did a little math, 89% of the projected $224.2 million salary cap is like $199.7blahblahblah million, basically $200 million.

Patriots are currently 33 million under this number. Draft picks will get you another 7, maybe. So where is the additional $26 million being spent?
$33 mil of cap space? Not sure where your numbers come from? According to overthecap.com
The Pats have $68mil of cap space and $59 mil of effective cap space, which is rookie signings accounted for and 51 players signed.

TeamCap
Space
Effective Cap
Space
#Active
Cap Spending
Dead
Money
Commanders$75,744,358$63,895,06649$168,152,131$7,133,514
Titans$74,242,445$68,128,48955$163,570,913$13,766,360
Texans$71,438,770$60,861,10742$171,091,928$1,879,652
Patriots$67,892,741$59,116,28256$167,936,688$7,983,623

Falcons$26,320,843$20,522,67258$220,248,701$523,102
Jets$6,639,723$2,034,45357$239,315,404$2,458,968
Dolphins($40,991,870)($55,117,723)37$276,409,330$10,309,238
Bills($43,797,904)($52,607,728)44$286,684,665$586,633
 
$33 mil of cap space? Not sure where your numbers come from? According to overthecap.com
The Pats have $68mil of cap space and $59 mil of effective cap space, which is rookie signings accounted for and 51 players signed.

TeamCap
Space
Effective Cap
Space
#Active
Cap Spending
Dead
Money
Commanders$75,744,358$63,895,06649$168,152,131$7,133,514
Titans$74,242,445$68,128,48955$163,570,913$13,766,360
Texans$71,438,770$60,861,10742$171,091,928$1,879,652
Patriots$67,892,741$59,116,28256$167,936,688$7,983,623


Falcons$26,320,843$20,522,67258$220,248,701$523,102

Jets$6,639,723$2,034,45357$239,315,404$2,458,968

Dolphins($40,991,870)($55,117,723)37$276,409,330$10,309,238
Bills($43,797,904)($52,607,728)44$286,684,665$586,633
I said the cap floor which is 89% of the projected cap. They're 33 million away from that.
 
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