Update as of 3/12/14: Isaac Sopoaga has been released by the Patriots and that will save them an additional $2.5 million on the cap. They are roughly sitting at $16.5 million now.
UPDATE as of 3/7/14: NFL team cap actually raised to $133 million. With the most recent cut to Steven Gregory, the Patriots now have roughly $14 million in salary cap space.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the NFL has raised the team’s salary cap number to $130 million. This number is higher than the previously anticipated number that was set around $126 to $128 million.
The Patriots were close to the cap ceiling, but now get a few extra million to play with and accessing where the Patriots are is now possible. According to my calculations, the Patriots have about $7.6 million in cap space without making a single roster move.
They had $4.1 million that was unused last season that will roll over to the 2014 season. As it stands right now, the Patriots have roughly $126.5 million committed to the cap in 2014. The initial $130 million for every team, combined with the $4.1 million carried over brings the Patriots projected cap to $134.1 million.
The Patriots will undoubtedly make a few roster moves starting with Isaac Sopoaga, who has a $3.5 million base salary that the Patriots could use in more important places. Cutting Sopoaga will add an additional $2 million in cap space after the Patriots eat $1 million.
Also, it is expected that the Patriots will try to renegotiate Vince Wilfork’s contract. Cutting Wilfork altogether would give the Patriots $7.5 million added on their cap. Cutting Tommy Kelly would save the Patriots an additional $1.7 million.
The Patriots can potentially add $11.2 million in salary cap space just by cutting players on the defensive line alone. There are other places that they can trim, but they will likely start there. The Patriots will likely have all the money they need to resign Talib and, possibly, bring in a safety to put next to Devin McCourty.
Their draft focus should now shift to both lines to replace whoever they cut on the defensive line and drafting a young offensive lineman should be a priority. The other positions like safety, cornerback and wide receiver should be filled through free agency to maximize the team’s chances immediately.