Here are a few Patriots who could be cap casualties this offseason

A couple of big-name Patriots, including guard Shaq Mason, could end up on the chopping block this week due to budget constraints.

Shaq Mason Patriots
New England Patriots offensive lineman Shaq Mason. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)
Recent Lionks

Much of the focus on the Patriots’ offseason will be on which players the team adds to beef up its chances to compete for a Super Bowl in 2022. But, as always, the arrival of fresh faces usually accompanies a couple of holdovers heading out the door.

NFL insider Jeff Howe of The Athletic highlighted a number of players that might leave Foxborough this offseason as the team tries to stay under the salary cap. (New England currently has just over $8 million in cap space heading into free agency.)

One easy cut: defensive end Henry Anderson, who did next to nothing with the Patriots last season after signing a two-year, $7 million free-agent contract in 2021.


“There are much bigger names than the 2021 free-agent bust who logged four games and made six tackles, but cutting Anderson would be an easy way to save about $2.7 million against the cap,” Howe writes.

Anderson almost certainly won’t be with the team going forward with Christian Barmore emerging and other role players, like Carl Davis, playing well with Anderson out. They could also get their savings right away without having to wait until June 1.

Another possibility Howe and other experts say could be done in New England is receiver K’Neal Harry, who would be on an expiring contract and hasn’t made his mark with the Patriots in three seasons.

But some other financial choices facing Bill Belichick and New England are much more complicated. What’s more: a few of them involve key players.

“If the Patriots want to get more creative, they could trade right guard Shaq Mason to create $7 million in cap space,” Howe further suggests. “They could also part with linebacker Kyle Van Noy and save $4.9 million, but it’s unlikely they’d find a net gain when considering the $2.45 million in dead money. Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy has a cuttable contract, saving $3.75 million in cap space while assuming $750,000 in dead money, but that wouldn’t be a wise move.”

The Mason move, in particular, represents an interesting conundrum. The 29-year-old graded out as the NFL’s fourth-best guard in 2021, according to Pro Football Focus. (Interestingly, Patriots guard Michael Onwenu, who ended up in a backup role last season, was PFF’s third-ranked guard.)


But he’s also in the fourth year of a five-year contract and would deliver the largest amount of cap savings if the Patriots let him go. Though New England likely won’t cut him and lose him for nothing this season, Mason could indeed have value as a trade chip. Plus, Onwenu or another veteran could slide in to replace Mason if he departed.

On the other hand, cutting Van Noy and Guy are tough propositions. While those moves would save the Patriots money, the team doesn’t have the depth at either outside linebacker or defensive end to truly justify them — at least not yet.

It will be interesting to see if New England largely stands pat in free agency after going on an impressive spending spree last season or makes a few deals to free up space for another run.


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