Patriots' 2014 Salary Cap: Breaking Down Overall, Position-Specific Cap Space

James Christensen@@nepatriotsdraftContributor IJanuary 14, 2014

Patriots' 2014 Salary Cap: Breaking Down Overall, Position-Specific Cap Space

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    Bill Belichick will be studying his roster this offseason.
    Bill Belichick will be studying his roster this offseason.Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Patriots' 2014 salary-cap situation isn't dire by any means, but a few unfortunate decisions—think Aaron Hernandez' lucrative extension—will prevent the Patriots from opening their wallets too far this offseason.

    Here is a position-by-position look at where the Patriots are currently committed to spending their cap space in 2014.

Overall Salary-Cap Space

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    USA TODAY Sports

    According to—referenced throughout this article—the New England Patriots have somewhere in the vicinity of $7.6 million in cap space available to them. They project the Patriots' cap ceiling to be $130.8 million due to some carryover funds from 2013.

    As I mentioned in an earlier Patriots cap breakdown, Belichick has many options available for him to raise that figure. To put it succinctly, Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins might get extensions, while Adrian Wilson, Dan Connolly and a few others might be relocating this spring.


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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $15.7 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $14.8 million (Tom Brady)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: None

    The New England Patriots have a very stable situation at quarterback, although Ryan Mallett will be entering the final year of his rookie contract.

    It wouldn't be out of the question for New England to add a young quarterback to the roster, upping the spend for this position. Mallett could leave in free agency or the Patriots could look to trade the backup quarterback.

Running Backs

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    Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $3.6 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $1.1 million (Shane Vereen)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: Brandon Bolden

    The New England Patriots have a great value with their running backs as a whole costing less than their kicker. If the Patriots are able to re-sign LeGarrette Blount this offseason, this number will probably go up significantly.

    Brandon Bolden isn't a bad value, but if anyone is going to be caught in a numbers game, he is the low man on the totem pole.

Wide Receivers

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    Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $9.8 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $4.7 million (Danny Amendola)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: None

    Like the running back position, this cap figure could certainly go up if they sign their free agents. Julian Edelman could easily command $5 million or more per year.

    With Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce on rookie contracts, this should be a position of value for the next couple of years.

    Other than perhaps Mark Harrison or T.J. Moe—who both spent 2013 on reserve lists—I don't see any of these receivers getting the axe.

Tight Ends

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $6.0 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $5.4 million (Rob Gronkowski)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: D.J. Williams

    The tight end position will need to be addressed this offseason, either in the draft or through free agency. The draft would certainly be more economical, as even first-round contracts are quite reasonable thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement.

    Rob Gronkowski isn't going anywhere, but D.J. Williams is likely to become a cut this March. Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan are both free agents that could re-sign with New England if the price is right.

Offensive Line

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    Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $23.8 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $10.5 million (Logan Mankins)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: Dan Connolly

    Nate Solder and Logan Mankins both need extensions, which could free up a significant amount of space for the Patriots to work with. 

    Dan Connolly and his behemoth $4 million cap number is a likely target for either a restructure or outright release. If he is brought back, it could be at the center position. Ryan Wendell hasn't had a great season in pass protection and will be a free agent this offseason.

Defensive Line

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $26.9 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $11.6 million (Vince Wilfork)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: Isaac Sopoaga

    Vince Wilfork is a likely suspect to have his contract restructured or extended this offseason, as his $11.6 million figure is heftier even than Wilfork's. There is an outside chance that Wilfork could be released, but you can expect to see him in Foxboro next season.

    Isaac Sopoaga, however, is as good as gone. Sealver Siliga has replaced him on the field, and the Patriots can shave $2.75 million by releasing the former Philadelphia Eagle.

    Chandler Jones' rookie contract is a good value when looking at his production, while Rob Ninkovich's reasonable extension has certainly paid off.


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    Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $11.4 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $7.3 million (Jerod Mayo)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: None

    Jerod Mayo's cap figure is a bit high, but the rookie contracts of Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower help offset his cost.

    Dane Fletcher and Brandon Spikes are both slated to become free agents in 2014. While Fletcher has a good shot at remaining with New England, economic factors might preclude the Patriots from signing Spikes to a long-term deal.

Defensive Backs

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $15.4 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $3.2 million (Steve Gregory)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: Adrian Wilson

    Devin McCourty will need an extension sometime in 2014—New England can't afford to let him hit free agency—so the Patriots might have to be a bit frugal with their choices in the secondary.

    Expect the Patriots to part ways with safety Adrian Wilson—who was placed on injured reserve before the season began—and perhaps even Tavon Wilson. Wilson hasn't exactly panned out and would save the Patriots nearly $800,000 against the cap.

    The Patriots could have a big expense in the secondary as well. Star corner Aqib Talib will be a free agent this offseason and should earn himself a lucrative contract. Expect New England to be heavily involved in negotiations.


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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Total 2014 Salary-Cap Figure: $4.8 million

    Highest 2014 Cap Number: $3.8 million (Stephen Gostkowski)

    Most Likely to Be Cut: Danny Aiken

    Stephen Gostkowski has too high of a salary-cap number for a kicker, even one who has performed as well as he has. An outright release is improbable, so the Patriots will have to look at an extension. Gostkowski is due to be a free agent in 2015.

    Ryan Allen and Danny Aiken are on rookie contracts and will continue to provide the Patriots with a good value. Aiken's snapping, however, has been streaky this year. New England may be able to upgrade at that position.