New England Patriots: Trimming the Fat at Training Camp -- Part One

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Sep 30, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots tight end Daniel Fells (86) and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (47) in the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp kicks off this month in New England and while former tight end Aaron Hernandez sits in a jail cell, his former teammates will be on the practice fields sweating in the summer heat.  Forget defensive tackle Vince Wilfork’s stomach, the Patriots have some other kind of fat to trim before the season: Wasted money on the team’s salary cap.  Despite being almost $9 million under the salary cap at this time, no player is safe when there is the chance that the team can get better value from a less expensive option. Add in that next season sees the Aaron Hernandez dead money escalation at almost $7.5 million on the 2014 salary cap, and the team just may be looking to clear some room now with an eye on 2014.


The Patriots employ a small upper-class of players (Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo, and Aqib Talib) who have salary cap charges at $5 million in 2013 or more (Talib actually is just under, but it can be rounded up for argument’s sake). Then there is the large middle-class of players on the roster who have cap charges between $3.5 million (Danny Amendola is a pinch over, but, again, can be rounded down for argument’s sake) and $1 million.


The twenty-one players falling into this category include young veterans on team friendly deals (tight end Rob Gronkowski) or older free agents on team-friendly deals (safety Adrian Wilson and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly) or re-signed players identified as valuable in their system (cornerback Kyle Arrington and tackle Sebastian Vollmer), and young players performing on their rookie deals (tackle Nate Solder, defensive end Chandler Jones, and linebacker Dont’a Hightower).  These players make up the “value” that is often talked about by coach Bill Belichick. In these players, the team gets production above their relative contact in comparison to players at the same pay grade around the league.


The Patriots head into training camp with five players with a target on their wallets as their performance in training camp must justify their pay in 2013. Two tight ends, two secondary players and a special teams specialist jumped off the New England Patriots salary cap table as being potentially overpaid (thanks as always to the great site,  As always with New England, overpaid is not in relation to the rest of the league, but rather in comparison to the rest of the roster. Part one kicks off with the first two players: tight ends Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui.


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Tags: Aaron Hernandez New England Patriots NFL NFL Offseason Patriots Patriots Offens Patriots Personnel Moves Patriots Roster Rob Gronkowski

  • Paul V. Suffriti

    Great info…..I like how you present the possibility of the Pats offense moving away from a constant two TE formation and using more of a three WR look. They will have many WR bodies in camp competing for roster spots. Everyone seems to be worried about the lack of depth at TE, but if the talent is stacked at the WR position then we could see the offense evolving to a new look at the beginning of the season. I could see Amendola and Edelman getting more snaps replacing the loss of Hernandez……every black cloud has a silver lining.

  • Hal Bent

    Thanks, Paul. I would love to see Amendola and Edelman on the field together to see how defenses defend two similar receivers..I think that the Patriots offense is geared towards Brady looking for mismatches. Gronk is a mismatch as long as he’s healthy no matter what. No matter who else is out in the pattern, if there is a mismatch, Brady is best at exploiting them. I’d just like to see a few 10-20 yard down the field instead 5-10 yards…

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