With the news that the Patriots have made Adalius Thomas a healthy inactive for today’s game, it seems clear that team and player have reached an impasse that will be difficult to resolve. Bill Belichick’s job would probably be made easier if Thomas was no longer in the locker room.
Why not cut him? Because the Patriots can’t.
With Christopher L. Gasper’s help, I touched on this in Friday’s Globe. When Thomas signed his five-year contract before the 2007 season, the Patriots awarded him a bonus of more than $20 million. For salary cap purposes, between his signing bonus and option bonuses, the Patriots are on the hook for $4.4. million every year of the contract.
If the Patriots cut Thomas now, the $8.8 million – which they have already paid him – remaining on the bonus money would be accelerated to this year’s salary cap. The Patriots do not have that much room left on their cap, making releasing Thomas prohibitive.
In the offseason, though, the Patriots may be able to cut Thomas with no repercussions. The league is currently scheduled to operate without a salary cap in 2010. If the Patriots cut Thomas this offseason – which, honestly, is safe to expect – that $8.8 million cap hit wouldn’t mean a thing if the league does not come to an agreement and implement a salary cap.