Patriots Mailbag: New England Could Benefit From Reduced 2021 Salary Cap

Many New England Patriots players have not hesitated to speak out against racial injustice as people across America continue to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

And while veteran defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty have been at the forefront of getting the message across, some of the Patriots’ most outspoken players are second- and third-year pros like running back Damien Harris, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and wide receiver N’Keal Harry.

It’s been nice to see that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick isn’t silencing his players from joining the conversation.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag. Watch above and read below.

@qualitysmoke
2021 Salary cap is expected to be WAY down. @Patriots have some of the most projected cap space in 2021.
If Stidham has it, could this work in the Patriots favour?
Too many moving parts to project that far I know.
Absolutely. As you mentioned, the 2021 salary cap actually might go down compared to the 2020 figure if NFL games are played without fans.

That means some teams up against the cap might have to cut a significant number of players to get under that cap. The Patriots are projected to have a ton of cap room next season. That almost never happens.

That’s a major part of the value in having a young, inexpensive quarterback like Jarrett Stidham. If the Patriots had re-signed Tom Brady, the majority of his cap hit would have been pushed into 2021. Then the Patriots might have been in cap hell for a second straight offseason.

The Patriots have an extensive list of players hitting free agency next offseason including linebacker Dont’a Hightower, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, left guard Joe Thuney, running back James White, center David Andrews, cornerback JC Jackson (restricted) and many more.

So, that salary cap space could diminish quickly. But they’ll have it heading into the offseason.

@STIsmail
Over/unders (assuming health)?
Stidham: 30 total TDs (passing + rushing)
Edelman: 100 catches
TEs: 10 total TDs
Offense: 20 rushing TDs
Defense: 16 INTs
Great question.

Stidham: under 30 touchdowns.

Julan Edelman: under 100 catches.

Tight ends: under 10 total touchdowns.

Under 20 rushing touchdowns.

Over 16 interceptions.

The Patriots only had 25 passing touchdowns, 17 rushing scores last season and 25 defensive interceptions last season. Edelman caught 100 passes and Patriots tight ends had just two receiving touchdowns.

@manuelny86
Who do you see replacing Duron Harmon as the true deep free safety? Hope they will keep Dmac in his versatile role.
I actually don’t think anyone replaces Harmon’s role. I think Devin McCourty will play a lot more free safety this season compared to previous years.

According to PFF, McCourty played:

467 out of 1,153 snaps at free safety in 2019
611 of 1,397 in 2018
674 of 1,379 in 2017
854 of 1,402 in 2016
766 of 1,266 in 2015
960 of 1,364 in 2014
998 of 1,377 in 2013
612 of 1,225 in 2012.

He was a cornerback in 2010 and 2011.

I think you’ll see McCourty go back to a rate similar to 2013 or 2014. So, expect McCourty to be back there at free safety the majority of the time. When the Patriots go into a Cover-2, rookie Kyle Dugger or slot cornerback Jonathan Jones might go back there to share the deep third of the field.

Special teamer Cody Davis also could play some free safety in the Patriots’ defense.

@neteamen22
Stidham struggles this season – what is next? If he does well/great what is the teams next focus?
If Stidham struggles in 2020, then they’ll go into next offseason looking for his replacement. If that happens, the Patriots probably won’t be very good in 2020, and they should have a relatively high pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That could help them land Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields or another QB. I know some Patriots fans are rooting for this.

If Stidham does great, then they’ll handle next offseason like business as usual with more cap space than they normally have.

Let’s go rapid fire:

@RockyColorado
What’s on your bucket list?
Hopefully I don’t kick the bucket anytime soon, but I’d like to go to Australia, and I’d also like to visit all of the world’s Disney parks. (I’d obviously also like to visit the countries those parks are in.)

@XLIX2K15
Doug, the people wanna know. How many UDFA make the Pats roster this year?
One.

@theloudnightowl
How many times have you had to correct someone’s pronunciation of your last name so far this year?
If I’m never going to see or talk to someone again, then I usually just don’t correct them. What’s the point?

I actually don’t know when the last time I did have to correct someone on the pronunciation of my last name.

@ejlinehan
Who do you think is most likely to restructure their contract to create cap space before the season starts? You listed options previously, but I dont think you mentioned who believe is most likely.
Thuney.

@Fimiam_Knows
Do you miss Tom?
Not yet. Get back to me in January.

@Phil_Me_Up_
When will the new Bon Jovi album be released?
Ask Bill Belichick.

That being said, what is everyone’s favorite Bon Jovi song? If I’m being completely honest, it’s probably “Livin’ On A Prayer” but “Runaway” is a strong contender.

@mojo1566
Most underrated fast food item #MailDoug
My favorite fast food item of all time, Taco Bell’s grande soft taco, is discontinued.

So, I’d say Taco Bell’s beefy five-layer burrito minus the sour cream.

I think just a McDonald’s cheeseburger is pretty underrated too.

@jonothorpejazz
Have you talked to your daughter at all about what is going on in the world? I know this might be a little too personal, but education is important at a young age
No, because she’s only 2, but I have made it a point to buy and read her more books from black authors.

@tayfieux
Why do people hate pepsi so much?
I don’t know! Hot take, but I prefer regular Pepsi to regular Coca Cola. Diet Coke is way better than Diet Pepsi, though. I find Diet Pepsi nearly undrinkable.

@ctaylor43
How’s Olivia doing?
She’s good! I feel bad that she’s been stuck in our house and neighborhood for most of the past three months, but she’s remained happy, healthy, funny and adorable, so that’s what’s most important.

@thisryanjackson
sup?
This is my last mailbag until late July. Every June and early July, I take all of my PTO while the Patriots are off for the summer until training camp.

So, I’ll be seeing you guys again in late July.

@AxelEXP
Where will Doug be relaxing on his vacation getaway?
Probably at my home in Massachusetts. I’d like to get down to Cape Cod or maybe to Florida or California, but I’m not sure if that’s going to work out this year.

Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images