Why exactly are the Patriots out of salary cap space in 2020?


If you ask Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots' salary cap situation during the offseason is what led to their lack of roster depth in 2020.

Belichick made some candid comments on SiriusXM NFL Radio last week, saying the team's lack of cap flexibility led to young players getting more playing time than in past years. He doubled down on those comments Monday on WEEI, stating "we sold out and won three Super Bowls."

The Patriots now have more flexibility ($25.9 million cap space) following the COVID-19 opt-outs of Patrick Chung, Brandon Bolden, Marcus Cannon, Dont'a Hightower, Matt LaCosse, Marqise Lee, Najee Toran and Dan Vitale. But what led to them being so limited from spending during the offseason?

2020 NFL Trade Deadline Tracker

Let's take a look (all $ amounts via Spotrac):

Key players

Here are the most expensive players on the Patriots' 2020 roster:

Stephon Gilmore, CB - $25.1 million cap hit (11.95% of total cap)

Joe Thuney, G - $14.8 million cap hit (7.02% of total cap)

Julian Edelman, WR - $9.8 million cap hit (4.59% of total cap)

Shaq Mason, G - $8.7 million cap hit (4.14% of total cap)

Jonathan Jones, CB - $5.9 million cap hit (2.83% of total cap)

Lawrence Guy, DE - $5.9 million cap hit (2.78% of total cap)

Jason McCourty, CB - $5.5 million cap hit (2.63% of total cap)


Devin McCourty, FS - $5.4 million cap hit (2.56% of total cap)

James White, RB - $4.6 million cap hit (2.18% of total cap)

David Andrews, C - $3.4 million cap hit (1.61% of total cap)

Adam Butler, DT - $3.2 million cap hit (1.55% of total cap)

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Draft Picks (2018-20)

Money the Patriots have tied to their draft picks from the last three years:

2018 (3.57% of total cap)

Isaiah Wynn, LT - $3.1 million cap hit

Sony Michel, RB - $2.6 million cap hit

Duke Dawson, CB, Broncos - $765k cap hit

Ja'Whaun Bentley, LB - $826k cap hit

Christian Sam, LB, Free Agent - $91k cap hit

Braxton Berrios, WR, Jets - $59k cap hit

Keion Crossen, CB, Texans - $37k cap hit

Total: $8.34 million

2019 (4.54% of total cap)

N'Keal Harry, WR - $2.3 million cap hit

Joejuan Williams, CB - $1.5 million cap hit

Chase Winovich, DE - $930k cap hit

Damien Harris, RB - $852k cap hit

Yodny Cajuste, LT - $840k cap hit

Hjalte Froholdt, G - $790k cap hit

Jarrett Stidham, QB - $833k cap hit

Byron Cowart, DT - $720k cap hit

Jake Bailey, P - $747k cap hit

Ken Webster, CB, 49ers - $56k cap hit

Total: $9.57 million

2020 (3.41% of total cap)

Kyle Dugger, S - $1.5 million cap hit

Josh Uche, LB - $918k cap hit

Anfernee Jennings, LB - $836k cap hit

Devin Asiasi, TE - $833k cap hit

Dalton Keene, TE - $818k cap hit

Justin Rohrwasser, K - $143k cap hit

Michael Onwenu, G - $660k cap hit

Justin Herron, T - $530k cap hit

Cassh Maluia, LB - $40k cap hit

Dustin Woodard, C - $24k cap hit

Total: $6.3 million

Dead Cap (12.58% of total cap)

What the Patriots are paying for several notable players no longer on the roster:

Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers - $13.5 million cap hit

Antonio Brown, WR, Buccaneers - $4.5 million cap hit

Michael Bennett, DE, Retired - $2 million cap hit

Stephen Gostkowski, K, Titans - $1.4 million cap hit 

Duron Harmon, SS, Lions - $1.25 million cap hit

For the full list, go here.