By Tom E. Curran
Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins combined 2013 salary cap hits will consume almost 35 percent of the Patriots available cap room according to NFL salary documents.
Brady's 21.8 million hit is bigger than the combined hits of Wilfork (10.6M) and Mankins (10M). With two years remaining on his deal, Brady is now into the heavy part of the contract he signed in September of 2010, according to the salary documents compiled at the end of the regular season.
Teams have been told the approximate cap number for 2013 will be 121M. Our friends at Pro Football Talk reported Wednesday night that the Patriots rolled over 5.6 million in unused 2012 cap space into 2013. As a result, the Patriots are working with about 126.6 million in cap space when the league year begins next month.
Brady's 2012 cap hit was 8M. It's noted on league documents that Brady 6M in signing bonus was deferred until February 15 of this year.
Mankins' hit swells from 7M; Wilfork's from 8.6.
The top nine cap hits in 2013 are projected to gobble up 65.95 million of the 2013 cap.
Those are: Brady (21.8M), Wilfork (10.6M), Mankins (10M), Jerod Mayo (5.6M), Brandon Lloyd (4.5M), Aaron Hernandez (4M), Stephen Gostkowski (3.4M) and Dan Connolly (3.3M).
Given the somewhat top-heavy nature of the Patriots situation, tenegotiations and the process of shifting money into future seasons - cap massaging, as it were - is certainly a possibility and may already be afoot.
In 2012, the top nine cap hits combined added up to 53.15 million and the highest among those was the 9.6M cap hit that came from Wes Welker being franchised.
What impact might this have on the Patriots 2013 offseason? It would lessen the likelihood of them franchising either Welker of Aqib Talib.
The tab for franchising Welker is projected to be 10.34. For Talib, a cornerback, it's projected at 10.67
That would mean the Patriots top 10 players would be into them for about 77M of the 126M cap.
We'll look later at how some of the Patriots' conference and divisional rivals stack up against the cap.