As the Seahawks and Broncos prepare for the Super Bowl, the front offices of the Patriots and 49ers are already in offseason mode, and each team has a lot of work to do, writes Joel Corry on CBSSports.com. Here are some thoughts from his piece..
- The Patriots are only set to be $3.9MM under the salary cap in 2014, based on the projected cap number of $126.3MM. They can look to create room by first cutting safety Adrian Wilson and defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga. Neither was able to contribute to a banged up defense in 2013, because of injury and poor play, respectively, and their release would save about $3.67MM of cap room. Corry also sees the Patriots looking to restructure the contracts of Pro Bowlers Logan Mankins and Vince Wilfork to create additional room.
- The two biggest names the Patriots could try to re-sign are Aqib Talib and Julian Edelman. Talib was the focal point of an injured defense, and played great when healthy. Of course, he did sit a few games with a hip injury this year and failed to stay healthy in each of the last two AFC Championship games. His contract demands may be high, and with the Patriots’ cap constraints the franchise tag might not be an option. Edelman filled in admirably in the role vacated by Welker in free agency, one Danny Amendola could not fill due to injury, but with money invested in Amendola, Corry is unsure if the Pats would be willing to pay Edelman.
- Brandon Spikes and LeGarrette Blount are also big names hitting free agency this offseason, but due to depth at those positions there is a chance the Patriots will not pursue them.
- The 49ers have a little more room, with $8.6MM under the cap before re-signing their restricted free agents. Carlos Rogers looks to be an easy cut, as the highest paid and least dependable member of their secondary. The 49ers would gain more than $5.1MM by releasing him. A tougher decision will have to be made on Frank Gore, who is turning 31 in May. He is coming off a productive season, but with draft picks invested in Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, and Marcus Lattimore, this could be a good time to turn the page in order to shed his $6.45MM salary. They can also create $6.2MM by restructuring contracts with star linebackers Patrick Willis and Ahmad Brooks.
- The 49ers also have decisions to make on whether or not to re-sign Anquan Boldin and Donte Whitner. Boldin was great on a one-year-deal, but could command interest on the open market. Whitner is thought to have priced himself out of his job, as he could demand too much for the 49ers to pay with contract extensions for Aldon Smith, Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati and Colin Kaepernick on the horizon.
- Speaking of Kaepernick’s next contract, Corry also wrote a piece for the National Football Post detailing the effect Peyton Manning‘s decision to sign a five-year, $96MM deal in March of 2012 to become the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos. Manning was rumored to have turned down an even larger offer from the Titans, possibly of $25MM per year. Corry details how this affected the contracts of the next group of quarterbacks to reach free agency. With one year left on his rookie deal, if Kaepernick is looking for a Joe Flacco or Matt Ryan type contract, it may have helped him had Manning grabbed the extra money to sign the Titans’ supposed offer.