With seven games remaining on their schedule — while sporting a dismal 2-8 record — the Pats do have reason to be optimistic regarding their bottom line for the 2024 season. According to overthecap.com, the Patriots are projected to have $79.3 million in effective cap space, or money which the team is truly able to spend.
With 2024 several NFL salary cap evaluations projecting a possible $256 million [a $31.2 million increase from this year, the team may be in prime position to reshape their roster this coming offseason.
Still, New England’s 2023 cap number continues to be shaped into the $1.94 million in currently available space as determined by Patriots salary cap expert Miguel Benzan — largely in part to several members of the roster being in line to reach their contract incentives for the season. Accordingly, Benzan put together a bye-week thread to demonstrate which Pats are on pace to reach either full, or partial contract incentives for 2023.
Throughout New England’s first 10 games, only two Pats are on pace to earn their full allotment of playing-time incentives: safety Jabrill Peppers and linebacker Jahlani Tavai.
Peppers has been instrumental in keeping the Patriots secondary respectable — and at times, formidable — this season. The former 2017 first-rounder has compiled 59 total tackles (four for loss) six passes-defensed, one interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Having taken 95 percent of the Patriots defensive snaps (as well as 75 snaps on special teams), Peppers is on-pace to earn $1 million in playing-time incentives this season.
Tavai has been one of New England’s most-pleasant surprises in 2023. The Hawaii product has played in all 10 of the team’s games, logging 61 total tackles (two, for loss), three quarterback hits, four passes-defensed, one interception and one forced fumble. He also has the lowest passer rating allowed (with a minimum of 20 targets faced) in the NFL with 54.0. Like Peppers, his 495 snaps on defense (72 percent) put him in position to earn $1 million in playing-time incentives, should he experience comparable on-field action during the Pats final seven games.
Despite being mainstays within the Patriots rotation, a handful of Pats players are in a position to earn a portion of of their contract incentives, primarily due to playing time. Starting left tackle Trent Brown, who has missed three games due to injury, is expected to earn playing-time incentives of $750,000 (of $6.25 million) based on his 431 snaps on offense to date. On the defensive side of the ball, tackle Lawrence Guy is set to earn Playing-time incentives of $2.25M (of $3.5 million) due to his having played 50.2 percent of the Pats snaps on defense. Lastly, linebacker Mack Wilson Sr. is a solid example of a player that can earn incentive-based pay despite logging only 174 (25 percent) defensive snaps. Wilson is a stalwart on special teams, and his 176 snaps (66 percent) in the game’s third phase has him on target to earn $200,000 (of $600,000) in playing-time incentives.
Benzan also named safety Adrian Phillips, offenisve lineman Calvin Anderson, special teamer Chris Board, defenisve lineman Daniel Ekuale, receiver DeVante Parker, running back Ezekiel Elliott, defenisve back Jalen Mills, and linebacker Matthew Judon as those currently off the pace to earn any of their playing-time incentives, due mostly to their respective injuries or reduction in on-field action.
New England will begin its unofficial “second-half” of the season on Monday when they return to Gillette Stadium to prepare for their Week 12 matchup with the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. ET.