If you're wondering why the New England Patriots haven't signed one of the top veteran quarterbacks who've been on the free agent market this offseason, the answer might come down to simple math.
The Patriots just don't have a ton of salary cap space, so even if they wanted to sign a quarterback like former MVP Cam Newton, the team lacks the financial flexibility to make that happen.
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Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer provided an updated look Thursday at the teams with the least salary cap space, and the Patriots are at the bottom by a fairly wide margin.
... And here are the teams with the least cap space, as of this AM.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) June 24, 2020
1) Patriots $651K
2) Buccaneers $4.22M
3) Rams $5.20M
4) Steelers $5.74M
5) Chiefs $6.20M
6) Raiders $7.42M
7) Ravens $8.89M
8) Cardinals $8.90M
9) Saints $9.43M
10) Falcons $10.06M
The Patriots could free up cap space in a few ways -- including trades, restructuring contracts and releasing players -- but there have been no recent reports of the team being close to making any of those moves. Coming to terms on an extension with left guard Joe Thuney (who's currently on the franchise tag) could open up salary cap space, but the two sides reportedly are "no closer to an extension" than they were in March.
One reason why the Patriots are lacking cap space is they are among the leaders in dead money for the 2020 season. In other words, several players who no longer play for the team will count against the 2020 cap due to how their contracts were structured. New England currently has just over $24 million in dead cap space, which is the fourth-highest total in the league, per Spotrac. Tom Brady ($13.5 million) and Antonio Brown ($4.5 million) are the players representing the most dead money on the Pats' cap figure.
The Patriots' lack of cap space this offseason prevented them from replacing the veterans who departed in free agency (Tom Brady, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, etc.) with other high-priced players. This will put pressure on the younger players already on the team's roster (N'Keal Harry, Ja'Whaun Bentley, etc.) and the 2020 draft picks to make a consistent impact throughout the regular season.