Patriots

Patriots rank second-to-last among NFL teams in available cap space

Patriots rank second-to-last among NFL teams in available cap space

The New England Patriots have been lacking cap space for most of the 2020 NFL offseason. So, it's no surprise to see them continuing to lag behind in the post-draft cap space rankings.

According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, the Patriots rank second-to-last among NFL teams in that category. The Patriots have just over $1 million in cap room remaining. Only the Los Angeles Rams have less as of this writing.

This is hardly surprising. Since slapping Joe Thuney with the franchise tag, the Patriots have ranked near the bottom of the league in available space. Part of that is because they're a veteran-laden team, and veteran contracts tend to be higher-priced.

The other part of that is related to the fact that the team has the third-most dead money in the NFL. Dead money is guaranteed money being paid to players who are no longer on the roster, i.e. Tom Brady and Antonio Brown.

The Patriots can still add some low-cost players to the roster if they want. Or they could create more space via extensions or contract restructures. 

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If the Patriots wanted to create a lot of space, they could explore the possibility of trading Thuney and his $14.8 million cap hit. That would let some of their recent draft picks like Hjalte Froholdt, Michael Onwenu, and Justin Herron fight for his job along with restricted free agent signee Jermaine Eluemunor.

It would also give them the space and ammo needed to target some of the bigger fish left on the free-agent market, if they wanted to explore that option.

But it seems more likely that the Patriots will stand mostly pat. They could make some smaller moves, but the odds of them adding any well-known or high-priced veteran to the roster seem low. Perhaps that will change if injury issues arise.

But for the time being, the Patriots can be considered one of the more cap-strapped teams in the league. And if you're among those holding out hope that Cam Newton could be in the Patriots future, it shouldn't be counted on, even if they are the betting favorite to land him.

Patriots' Gillette Stadium to host 20 percent of fans in best-case scenario

Patriots' Gillette Stadium to host 20 percent of fans in best-case scenario

Cam Newton could make his New England Patriots debut in front of 13,175 fans.

And that's the best-case scenario.

The Patriots announced Tuesday they expect Gillette Stadium to operate at 20 percent capacity for 2020 home games. That's if fans are allowed to attend games at all, which would need approval from state and local governments.

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If fans attend games, they'll be required to wear face coverings "at all times" inside the stadium and stay at least six feet from other parties, per the team.

To aid in physical distancing, the Patriots will distribute tickets in blocks of 10 seats or less and close off the eight rows closest to the field. The team also announced earlier this month that all ticketing will be digital and that parking at the stadium will be free.

Again, this all assumes fans will even be allowed at NFL stadiums -- and that the 2020 season will start on time -- as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the United States.

By announcing an 80 percent reduction in crowd size, though, the Patriots join several teams in at least acknowledging this season will look very different from years past, even under the best-case scenario.

Why Scott Zolak sees Jarrett Stidham, not Cam Newton, as Patriots' starter

Why Scott Zolak sees Jarrett Stidham, not Cam Newton, as Patriots' starter

The New England Patriots are saying all the right things. Stephon Gilmore recently said he's excited for Cam Newton to "compete for a starting job" at quarterback.

But we know this isn't a competition, right? There's no chance second-year QB Jarrett Stidham starts over a three-time Pro Bowler and former NFL MVP, right?

Scott Zolak believes otherwise. In fact, the former Patriots quarterback said Monday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand" he envisions Stidham, not Newton, as New England's Week 1 starter based on conversations he's had with Patriots players and those close to the team.

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"I believe Stidham will be starting QB from the people I talk to and people that I trust: the players, people tied to the team, team captains," Zolak said, as seen in the video above. "The way they speak of Jarrett Stidham and the work he has put in."

Zolak also related that Stidham has been working out regularly but simply has been less public about it than Newton, who has posted several videos of his workouts to Instagram since joining New England.

"A lot of people thought Stidham was on a two-week vacation on a wedding tour down in Texas," Zolak said. "He did go to a wedding and spent time with family -- and he worked out every day with pro-caliber receivers. That's what I was told."

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Physical conditioning aside, Zolak believes Newton faces an immense uphill battle in learning the Patriots' offense during an unprecedented offseason in which players and coaches haven't been able to meet in person. In that sense, Zolak thinks Stidham has the upper hand after a year working under head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

"I just don’t know if Cam Newton is gonna do this in 35 days and be ready to go unless it's some completely different offense that's going to run at 40% efficiency," Zolak said.

Of course, the Patriots signed Newton for a reason, and our Tom E. Curran recently reported New England is confident the 31-year-old QB will master the playbook. Curran has also indicated Newton is committed to the Patriots and wouldn't bail on the team if he wasn't named the starter out of the gate.

At the very least, though, it sounds like the starting QB job won't be handed to Newton. He'll have to earn it.