The $16.2 million that ProFootballTalk.com reported as the number the Patriots are currently under the cap is correct. It’s almost exactly the number that I have for them.
Here’s how that number came about:
The 2012 cap number is $120.6 million. The Patriots have carried over the $6.7 million they didn’t use on the 2011 cap.
So the Patriots are operating on an individual cap number of $127.3 million.
Right now, including Wes Welker’s franchise tag figure of $9.515 million, the Patriots are committed to $99.8 million to the top 51 contracts this season. They also have about $11.3 million in dead cap space from previous transactions.
So they are committed to $111.1 million at this time.
They can free up more cap space. The easiest way is for left tackle Matt Light to retire. His $8 million cap number would then come right off the books.
Chad Ochocinco counts $4.683 million against the cap right now. His Twitter comments indicate he’s going to restructure. That should cut the number in half. If he’s cut at some point, it would save $3.1 million against the cap this season.
Of course, the Patriots still don’t have a viable center or defensive end under contract yet. And the expected second-round tender to QB Brian Hoyer will count $1.927 million. They also have 15 free agents, not including Welker and Hoyer.