By: Isaiah Houde | May 31, 2019 12:47 pm ET 3-4 minutes
It is no secret that the New England Patriots handle their salary cap and finances better than most NFL franchises.
The Patriots have handled their money and player contracts on a surreal level and Bill Belichick has been the mastermind behind it all. They have managed to get rid of star players right before they sign huge contracts, while getting quality seasons out of them. One example of the Patriots’ expertise was this year’s NFL Draft — where they managed to lead the league in draft picks heading in.
One person that understands the intricacies of money in the NFL is Joel Corry — a former NFL agent and current contributor for CBS Sports. Corry broke down the Patriots and why they’re so good and managing their finances.
It often seems like head coach Bill Belichick, who is essentially New England’s general manager without formally having the title, is playing chess while the rest of the NFL is playing checkers. The Patriot Way has become synonymous with players buying into Belichick’s coaching, the team concept and his philosophy of accountability.
Belichick has been playing chess with the league since 2000, and still operates at a top-notch level.
The Patriot Way was never more evident than in 2016, when the New England won its fifth Super Bowl in franchise history. The Patriots didn’t miss a beat after jettisoning arguably their best two defensive players from the 2015 season. Chandler Jones was shipped to the Cardinals in an offseason trade because New England was never going to pay him the going rate for productive pass rushers, which at the time was in the $16 to $17 million per year neighborhood with over $50 million in guarantees, once his contract expired after the season. Linebacker Jamie Collins turning down an $11 million per year extension during training camp was an impetus for dealing him to the Browns as that season’s trading deadline approached.
Year in and year out, Belichick understands when to let a player go and find value in a player with a cheaper contract.
New England uses the trade market more extensively than most teams. It’s a cost effective way to rebuild the roster, especially when there are major losses in free agency. Defensive end Michael Bennett and a 2020 seventh-round pick were obtained from the Eagles for a 2020 fifth-round pick when it became evident that Trey Flowers, the Patriots’ best pass rusher, was going to price himself out of New England in free agency. In a trade, the acquiring team assumes the remainder of a player’s contract. Any bonus proration in the deal is the responsibility of the original signing team. It doesn’t become a responsibility of the new team. This affords the Patriots optimal roster flexibility because a player can be released without any adverse cap consequences as long as there isn’t any guaranteed money left in the deal.