With news breaking today that the NFL is going to increase the salary cap for 2014, it gives hope to those franchises who are up against the cap but have glaring needs they could address in free agency — teams like the New England Patriots.
Up until the announcement of the new cap, which will be 5 percent higher than last year at about $130 million, the Patriots didn’t have the kind of money it would take to go after the top free agents in this year’s class.
That $130 million number is higher than teams had expected which means the Patriots now have the kind of money it will take to go after those top playmakers. The Patriots have major needs on the defensive line, but their biggest need is to find a reliable target at wide receiver for Tom Brady to connect with.
Receivers like Eric Decker and Hakeem Nicks have been rumored to be on the radar for the Patriots, but with the salary cap projections before their price tags would have been too much to bring them in.
Decker will likely get paid as a No. 1 receiver even though he’s really a No. 2, and Nicks has what it takes to be a No. 1 but just can’t seem to stay healthy.
Both of them would have been too much of a risk before, but with the new spending cash the Patriots have the opportunity to take a little bit more of a risk.
I’d rather see them gamble on Nicks than Decker. We know Decker is more of a system guy than a raw talent guy, and the Patriots already have plenty of them. Nicks, if he can stay healthy, can be the kind of take-the-top-off-the-defense receiver that New England needs right now.
Raising the salary cap for the Patriots is like throwing an extra 20 at a kid as they head to the mall; it’s like playing with house money. You might as well spend it.