We may be a week away from the start of spring, but with the clocks moving forward this past weekend, it feels like so much more has as well, especially in the NFL.
One of the major contributors to the offseason really progressing was the official announcement of the salary cap for the 2021-2022 league year. Last week, the NFL released that salaries will be capped at $182.5 million, a decrease of nearly $16 million from last season.
With that news, front offices have been quick to create as much space under that mark as possible, whether they were already over it or not. This has led to a number of players being released, or having their contracts restructured, especially some of the league’s biggest names. This has generated much buzz around the league, and fan bases are really picking up in their hopes and expectations for next year.
This brings us to the heart of the matter, the three things I learned from Week 5 of the offseason in the NFL.
1) Patriots Are Seeking Stability
Last season was the first time in nearly 20 years that the New England Patriots didn’t have Tom Brady as their starting quarterback. Of course, they had a different MVP under center in Cam Newton, the team’s free agent acquisition late in the offseason.
After a decent first season with the Patriots in which Newton helped them to a 7-9 record though missed the playoffs, the two parties agreed on an extension on Saturday to keep the quarterback in Foxborough ahead of his pending free agency. The one-year deal has a maximum value of $14 million, but a base value of just $5 million.
There’s no impression that Newton is in the plans for the Patriots beyond 2021, but the team must recognize that they will need to address the position sooner or later. Bringing back Cam, however, is a stabilizing move for a franchise that is still unsettled after Brady not only left, but won Super Bowl LV with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It must further sting to see the Patriots legend turn the success into an extension for another year, keeping him with Tampa through 2022.
Patriots already have spent their most guaranteed money on free agents in any offseason over the last decade. https://t.co/iyQI3A72lx
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 15, 2021
With New England settled at quarterback for the season, they can turn their attention and wallet toward building up the rest of the roster, which they did early Monday at the start of free agency.
2) The Crack in the Chiefs’ Armor Grows
Speaking of MVP quarterbacks, the Kansas City Chiefs’ signal caller Patrick Mahomes will likely face adversity once again at the cost of his offensive line.
With the financial stress created by the decrease of the salary cap, the Chiefs have had to restructure a number of contracts, including Mahomes’. In addition to moving money around, they also elected to release Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher, two starting offensive lineman that further missed the Super Bowl when Kansas City’s quarterback was under constant threat.
— NFL (@NFL) March 11, 2021
If the Buccaneers showed defensively how to limit one of the most explosive offenses in the Super Bowl, dropping talent from the line doesn’t appear to be a logical reaction with just $20 million in cap space. The team may also be losing a third starter on the line yet too if Austin Reiter doesn’t re-sign. Acquiring Joe Thuney on the first day of free agency is a start, but there’s more work to be done.
The Super Bowl roster from a year ago wasn’t going to stay together forever, but how many pieces can the Chiefs afford to lose?
3) Rough Offseason for Receivers?
There are a number of talented receivers that have hit free agency this offseason, and with a talented class of pass catchers in the draft, the market may be too saturated up front. This isn’t a good thing for the veterans looking for new deals.
According to NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah’s latest rankings, three of the top 10 talents in next month’s draft are receivers, four in the top 32, and eight in the top 50 – that’s nearly 20% of the top 50 players. With the abundance of quality receivers in the draft, players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kenny Galladay and Antonio Brown may be waiting a while to have their services contracted. Sure the rookies would be more of a gamble on how well they can play at the next level, but money is tight these days, and their price is less than an established star.
There was, of course, much more going on in the league last week, and this week has already started off with major news like Drew Brees’ retirement. Is there something else you caught last week that maybe deserved to make my list here today? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @JarkClonas. Be sure to tag @110Sports too.
Photo by Jonathan Satriale / WEBN-TV / Flickr