Before the New England Patriots can begin making their offseason moves in free agency, they still need to find out how much salary cap space they will have. With several high-priced free agents like Tom Brady, Joe Thuney, and Kyle Van Noy looking for big-money deals, New England may not have the flexibility to re-sign all three.
However, the amount of cap space the Patriots can work with is contingent on a quartet of grievances filed against the Patriots. Should New England win all four, which is likely, the Patriots’ cap space could increase by nearly $13 million.
Of course, the most high-profile grievance is the one filed by Antonio Brown who is seeking his entire guaranteed $9 million signing bonus. The other three players all with grievances include David Parry and Cole Croston with injury settlements from the 2019 preseason and tight end Aaron Hernandez, whose family is posthumously seeking unpaid contract bonuses.
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Though he was only on the Patriots for 11 days, Brown caused quite a few problems during his time in New England with his off-field drama. As a result, he filed a record nine grievances against both the Patriots and Raiders in search of over $61 million in unpaid wages.
The likelihood of him winning these grievances is low, and the Patriots could benefit from an additional $9 million added to their salary cap. No word yet from the NFL on when these grievances may be decided, but one would have to assume it would be before the start of free agency in March.
Recently the subject of an eye-opening Netflix documentary, Hernandez was cut by the Patriots in early 2013 after his arrest for first-degree murder. After recently signing a lucrative five-year, $40 million contract, Hernandez’s family began seeking what the Patriots owed.
And apparently, they still have yet to hear about the $3.25 million signing bonus Hernandez was set to receive. But it appears it may not carry any weight against the Patriots cap since that sum was applied to New England’s cap during the 2014 season.
Given that much of his career earnings were exhausted in legal fees, getting the money Hernandez was owed is important. With the current CBA set to expire in 2020, all existing grievances are in the process of being heard.
David Parry & Cole Croston
The last two grievances are for a small amount and stem from injury settlements during the preseason. Both were released on August 31 as part of final roster cuts ahead of the 2019 season.
In an article by Jim McBride of the Boston Globe, he explains that “Per NFL rules, the Patriots must carry 40 percent of each grievance on their salary cap. So it equals an extra cap charge of $179,200 for Parry and $163,200 for Croston.”
Since the grievances weren’t heard during the 2019 season, they will carry over for the 2020 league year. Though winning these grievances could potentially help with signing some draft picks, New England may not have as good a chance with these given they are injury settlements that the NFLPA usually wins.