4 contracts holding the Patriots back right now

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JuJu Smith-Schuster - wide receiver

2024 Cap hit: $10,280,386

Unsurprisingly to anyone who watched a Patriots game last season, JuJu Smith-Schuster's contract is an absolute disaster for this team next season. Although he's not being paid an egregious amount of money compared to other receivers, a cap hit of over $10 million is a lot for a guy who barely made his presence known on the field last year.

He was a problematic signing from the start, as Bill Belichick seemingly chose not to pay Jakobi Meyers a nearly identical contract in favor of signing Smith-Schuster, who was coming off an injury at the time. Meyers signed with the Raiders and went on to have the best season of his career in 2023, while Smith-Schuster had the worst outside of 2021 when his year ended prematurely due to injury.

Fortunately, Jerod Mayo is not in a position that forces him to keep the receiver on the roster for the upcoming season. Trading him would be the best route, taking on just $5.2 million in dead cap for the season and saving over $5 million before June 1.

If he chose to wait until after that date to trade Smith-Schuster, they would add over $2.6 million in dead cap in 2024 and 2025, receiving $7,647,053 in savings.

Releasing him would be an entirely different story, and if done after June 1, would only add $647k+ to this year's cap space, essentially not being entirely worth it.

Davon Godchaux - defensive tackle

2024 Cap hit: $11,650,000

When Davon Godchaux was signed during the 2021 free-agency spending spree, there wasn't a lot of excitement about his addition. He had spent the first four years of his career with the Dolphins but missed all but five games of the 2020 season on injured reserve.

The Patriots needed help on the defensive line, so the signing made sense, and over the last three seasons, Godchaux has gone under the radar regarding his contributions. He has been a solid help with run blocking over the years, which had been a weakness in New England. But his lack of pass rush hurts his value, especially when he's due over $11 million for the season.

Cutting the nose tackle would only force the team to take on $3.5 million in dead cap this year while adding $8.15 million in savings. Because there are so many roster holes needing to be addressed, making every dollar count, releasing a guy who has become helpful in just one area wouldn't be a bad idea.