I find a lot of the posts interesting about signing this guy or signing that guy or using the tag on someone in this cap stagnant era, as if you can overspend at will. Thought I would start a thread to discuss cap management and building teams. The general idea is to be balanced in terms of spending on offense and defense and have enough money left from big ticket players to fill out the rest of the starters with decent talent. Because QB is THE premium position in terms of salary, the balance for teams with high quality veteran QBs tend to be a little slanted in that direction. The Pats fall into that category so an approximate breakdown would be:
Total cap = 123M - minus specialist at 5M (K, P, Long Snapper) = 118M - minus dead space 3M (not sure what the league average is but probably in that neighborhood) 115M. For Pats and other vet pro bowl QB teams subtract a QB 'extra' of 5M = 110M. Subtract another 10M for draft pool, udfa, and in season manouverability and you end up at 100M or 50M each for offense and defense.
Typically the top 8 players on a team (veteran leaders) are going to come in around 50M and be split fairly closely between offense and defense which leaves a pool of 25M for 7 additional starters and about 18 reserves (15-16 actual plus IR players) With veteran minimums and rookie salary guys those 18 probably average about $0.7M per for a total of 12-13M leaving a pool of 12-13M for the 7 additional starters. Hopefully half of those starters are actually still on their rookie contracts and averaging maybe 1M so the other 3 or 4 players have to split 8-10M between them. That is not a lot of money to be thrown around.
So where do the Pats stand (numbers are approximate based on 'OvertheCap'):
Offense top 4 - 27.4M (32.4 minus the QB 5M weighting) Brady 13.8M, Mankins 10M, Lloyd 4.5M, Hernandez 4.1M.
Defense top 4 - 21.9M Wilfork 10.6M, Mayo 5.6M, Nink 3.1M, Gregory 2.6M
Top 8 total = 49.3M
Tag costs for CB, OL, or WR all are at near 10M which would put the offense at 33.3M (add tag remove Hernandez for top 4) or the defense at 29.3M (add tag and remove Gregory) and the top 8 number at 54.2M or 56.7M. This is part of why I don't think the tag will be used today. For Welker or Vollmer it throws the team more out of balance Off/Def. For Talib it is just too inflexible given additional defensive needs. A 4 year contract can be much more flexible and allow for two or three holes to be filled.
I think this also shows why Brady's new contract was so important and why GB, Atl, and Balt are all facing future problems and NO and Denver are already a little shaky with their QBs due for 20M/yr cap hits either currently or in the near future. And it also shows why a player like Revis is such a problem for the Jets - and why other teams are unlikely to give up much in trade. His new contract demands are like adding another QB 'penalty' of 5M to your roster and while he is a great player, at 15M/yr you are left filling the rest of the defense - 10 starters - at around 22-23M. Add in one star LB and one star DL at 7M each and you have the rest of your 8 starters averaging about 1M per.
One of the things BB and the Pats have done really well throughout the years is to keep the quality of the back-ups good by not overpaying the 'stars' and other starters. It is a minor difference in cost that adds up quickly when you consider they represent 31 of 56 roster spots. Adding 2-5M to the back end roster can be a huge difference in quality and results when injuries hit. If you lose cap control you are depending on low grade rookies and journeyman vets on minimum salaries to fill in when injuries occur. Buffalo, NY, and Miami have all suffered from this syndrome though the Bills and Dolphins mostly suffered because they didn't spend enough rather than overspent on starters.