Patriots Salary Cap

I don’t pretend to completely understand how the NFL Salary Cap works, but, according to this page on, the Pats just signed a small boatload of free agents for $495k salaries (which I assume is the league minimum), but are only giving up cap space equal to their (sometimes zero) signing bonuses.

Anyone know why that is?

Also, the page lists two cap space figures … top 51 and total. Which one is the one that matters?

I think its because for most of them the signing bonus is all that’s guaranteed. If they make the team their entire salary would affect the total cap. Some, Terez Hall for example, have a SB and some of their salary guaranteed. Eventually he will either count 80k (if he is cut) or 495k (if he makes the team) against the cap. But right now all they’ve paid him is the $3333 signing bonus.

The Top 51 is just a way for teams to account for expanded rosters in the preseason. Only the top 51 contracts count toward the off season cap. That way teams with no cap space can still bring its draft picks to camp and invite UFDAs and reserve contract guys to training camp. Once the regular season starts all teams will be expected to abide by the 53 man cap.


Great explanation. Thank you.

Based on that web page, though, it looks like (assuming the Patriots sign all 10 of their draft picks) the team gives up $8M and change of cap space, irregardless of how many of those draft picks end up making the 53-man roster. In other words, those draft picks seem to be a special case apart from the UDFAs and reserve contract players.

try this site, explains a lot

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That looks like it has a lot of the same information as spotrac, but they don’t say much about the cap space that will be taken up by the draft picks.

Maybe they will update it once these guys actually sign contracts.

I’ve found another page that lays out what each draft pick gets for their first contract.

Based on what @ThepAlmetToState posted, I’m going to guess that the only guaranteed components of these rookie contracts are the signing bonuses.

So, if N’Keal shows up to training camp overweight and with an attitude, and gets the old heave-ho because of that, his cap hit would be $5,343,801 (signing bonus) averaged over four years.

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The old page was

I would say its not worth losing too much sleep over at this point. There are so many ways to massage the cap that what a team wants to do, it will get done.

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