The Patriots aren’t the team they have been for most of the last two decades, and coach Bill Belichick says that’s in part a result of the salary cap.
Although the Patriots now have plenty of cap space, Belichick noted that early in the offseason they didn’t, and that limited how much they could spend in free agency.
“We’re playing more young players than we’ve played in the past,” Belichick said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “A combination of reasons. We were pretty heavily invested in our team in the past few years. From a salary-cap standpoint, we didn’t have much flexibility at all. I think that was obvious on the Cam Newton contract. Then we had some opt-outs, so we lost some players there that would normally have been giving us significant amount of play time. And then like every year, a couple guys are banged up and we’ve missed some guys here and there in certain games. I think when you combine it all together, there is opportunity there, and some of that opportunity has gone to younger players. Again, because of our cap situation in this particular year, this is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years. We just haven’t been able to have the kind of depth on our roster that we’ve had in some other years.”
Even with the cap expected to decline by about $20 million next year, the Patriots project to be in good cap shape. So while other teams are feeling a pinch in 2021, the Patriots should be able to rebound from a turbulent 2020.