The NFL salary cap for 2013 has been set at $123 million from $120.6 million in 2012 as confirmed by NFL Network Albert Breer and NFL.com Ian Rapoport – a by-product of the league and the union working together to establish a cap number according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The $3 million increase is due in part to the new CBA in dividing the more than $9 billion in annual league revenues (a rising figure) which was greater-than-expected. Figures should keep rising mainly once the NFL’s new television contracts are enforced for the 2014 season. The additional revenue will be reflected in the salary cap for 2014, which should be expected to have a significant increase than the 2012 and 2013 increase. For instance, there was no salary cap in 2010 – the final year of the old CBA. But in 2011, the first year under the new CBA, the cap was $120.375 million.
As for the Patriots, before Tom Brady entered to a cap-friendly contract extension this week, the team had roughly $15 million in cap space. Now the team has $24.988 million in cap room counting the $5.6 million in cap rollover adjustment.
Given a roomy cap space available, the Patriots should be able to use the cash on Wes Welker, Aqib Talib, Sebastian Vollmer and Danny Woodhead.
Here’s an estimate of where the money might go.
It’s not secret coach Bill Belichick is fascinated by Ed Reed’s talent at safety position. It’s possible the New England Patriots will attempt to bring Baltimore Ravens Ed Reed by offering him $5 million per year. That’s quite a chunk of money for the 34 year-old aging safety, but if that means bringing stability and consistency in the secondary; the investment could be worth. However, the Ravens don’t show any desire in letting Reed go. While Joe Flacco’s $120 million deal is still fresh and Ray Rice’s $35 million contract was already signed last year, we’ll see if Dannell Ellerbe’s deal will have a bigger impact in determining Reed’s destiny.
I like the impact and improvement Talib has brought to the Patriots secondary as he started with the Patriots on Week 11. It looks like he adapted well with the Patriots system and I don’t think his past “uncharacteristic” behavior will be an on-going issue. I think that he might be looking for stability, longevity and also in being part of a respectful system as a form of proving his own credibility as a team-player. Placing a franchise tag is truly not an option, and perhaps a two-year low-risk deal will be a better option for both parties. It will depend if he will be offered more money during free agency by another team than the Patriots is actually willing to pay him. There’s the case he might turn into a Randy Moss if a long-term deal is offered and accepted, but then again, the Patriots took a risk in drafting Alfonzo Dennard. Outside Talib, Detroit Lions Chris Houston or Miami Dolphins Sean Smith could be a good choice. Philadelphia Eagles Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie would be a question “at what cost”?
- Wide receiver
Welker is a better fit for the Patriots than to any other team – he knows the complex Patriots system and the Patriots knows how reliable he is. Due to Tom Brady’s new extension deal allowing the team to navigate more freely in the free agent market, there is no reason a long-term deal can’t be agreed on both sides. Should Brand Lloyd be out of the picture, it would be nice to have Mike Wallace, but perhaps a better choice will be in the draft (Tavon Austin or Quinton Patton).
- Offensive tackle
Vollmer’s ability to play right tackle or left is indispensable and he should be resigned. Assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia can make miracles with any five players Bill Belichick provides him. Nevertheless, it would be fascinating to see an improvement in the offensive line with explosive players like Terron Armstead, Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. I think the Patriots front-five is getting rusty (I like Wendell and Vollmer) and competiveness for roster spot should be often addressed.
- Running Back
After Jeff Demps has expressed his interest in returning to track, I’m not sure his divided attention to football and track will work out for Bill Belichick. Demps spend the entire 2012 season on the injury reserved and we don’t really know if he can deliver in the football field. Occupying a roster spot is big deal for Belichick as he values a football player that is flexible in the playbook. The roster spot issue is enough reason to re-sign Danny Woodhead. Yes, we have Stevan Riddley and the rising of Shane Vereen; however, Woodhead is a tremendous running back that when all falls apart he is Brady’s go-to running back guy.
- Defensive Tackle
Wilfork is one the best nose/defense tackle in the league really clogging up the middle at 6-2, 325 pounds. He is the difference in the Patriots 3-4 defense (to be clear, I’m not suggesting replacing him). I go into panic when Big Vince is not in the lineup as he sure needs some rest in between snaps every now and then. Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick are good, but selecting an explosive player like Sharrif Floyd (46 total tackles, 6.5 for loss) would be a great complement to the roster.
Another defense tackle I see that could fit is Sheldon Richardson. He earned second-team All-SEC honors; lead all interior defensive linemen in the conference in tackles (75) adding 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks for good measure.
Although his production was not so outstanding, John Jenkins produced 50 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. At 6-4, 346 pounds, he can clog running lanes and has experience at both nose guard and defensive end in the 3-4 scheme.
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