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Potential Patriots Cap Casualties Ahead of Free Agency

On the same day they finalized their coaching staff, the Patriots also had a busy day on the roster construction front. Left tackle Trent Brown's deal expired early, as expected, netting New England a $2,000,000 dead cap charge in the process, but they also made a pair of releases. One of which wasn't much of a shock, that being safety Adrian Phillips, who saw a massive downtick in playing time last season, while the surprise was veteran IDL Lawrence Guy, who notably had a contract holdout last summer over pay, but has been a steady veteran presence from the moment he arrived in Foxborough, leading to him making the Patriots All-Decade team for the 2010s.

Those two releases saved the Patriots about 6.5 million dollars against the salary cap, bringing them to $76,291,052 in usable space, second in the NFL to only the Washington Commanders. However, I highly doubt those two cap-saving moves are the last this team makes ahead of the new league year. Here are five players who I believe are likely cap casualties with that in mind, as well as the money the Patriots would save in the event they cut bait.

No. 1) J.C. Jackson

Cap Savings if Released: $14,375,000

Likelihood of Getting Released: 100%

Might as well start with the guarantee of the bunch here. Even if J.C. Jackson turned into his 2020-2021 form, this was always the likeliest outcome. All the guaranteed money on his deal is now up, and the Patriots can get out scott-free, saving just south of 14.5 million dollars in the process. It would be malpractice if Eliot Wolf didn't do this.

No. 2) Raekwon McMillan

Cap Savings if Released: $1,300,000

Likelihood of Getting Released: More Likely than Not

It's hard not to feel bad for how McMillan's stint as a Patriot has gone. Two devastating preseason injuries in the last three years have led to him only playing 13 games with the Patriots. Obviously, this isn't any fault of his own, but looking at the Patriots off-ball linebacker situation with Ja'Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai, and Mack Wilson, this would be a fairly logical move to save at least some money.

No. 3) Connor McDermott

Cap Savings if Released: $1,210,000

Likelihood of Getting Released: 50/50

Should the Patriots want to cut bait with one of their depth tackle options, their two best bets are letting go of Connor McDermott or Calvin Anderson. The difference between the two is marginal, relatively speaking anyway, about $300,000. At that point, the money becomes secondary. Speaking personally, if they were to keep one of the mentioned tackles, I'd lean toward Anderson. He certainly wasn't great in the action he saw in 2023, but keep in mind he missed a ton of time during camp with an illness and that certainly had to play some role in his play. I'd be willing to give him another shot in a depth role, especially given that 2024 is the last year of his deal anyway.

No. 4) JaMychal Hasty and KeShawn Vaughn

Combined Cap Savings if Released: $2,352,055

Likelihood of Getting Released: Likely

Thought it'd be appropriate to bunch up a pair of running backs that Bill Belichick brought in but never really gave a shot to. Like the last two moves, one or both players becoming cap casualties wouldn't be a shock, but for a lot of the same reasons that the Phillips release wasn't a surprise, they simply weren't getting used.

Patriots Contract Restructure Candidates: WR Juju Smith-Schuster (Would save $3,584,333), WR DeVante Parker (Would save $2,295,000)

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