With a 2014 cap number of $11,600,000 Vince Wilfork has the 2nd highest cap number on the Patriots and the 4th highest cap number for an defensive tackle in the NFL. Wilfork is signed through the 2014 season and is due $8 million in cash ($7.5 million salary, 300K weight bonus and a 200K offseason workout bonus). I was asked how could the Patriots lower Wilfork’ cap number. Here are the seven most likely ways.

Current cap numbers
2014 -$11,600,000 – 7.5m salary +300K weight bonus + 200K workout bonus + 3.6m prorated signing bonus

1) Releasing Wilfork would change the above numbers to
2014 – $3,600,000 (prorated signing bonus) a $8,000,000 gross saving and a $7,580,000 net savings on the cap as a player with a $420,000 salary would replace Wilfork in the Top 51 list

2.) Converting all but $1,00,000 of his $7.5m salary to a signing bonus while extend his current deal through the 2015 season would change the above numbers to
2014 – $8,350,000 – $1,00,000 salary +300K weight bonus + 200K workout bonus plus $6,850,000 prorated signing bonus (a $3,685,000 savings)

3.) Converting all but $1,00,000 of his $7.5m salary to a signing bonus while extend his current deal through the 2016 season would change the above numbers to
2014 – $7,266,666 – $1,00,000 salary +300K weight bonus + 200K workout bonus plus $5,766,666 prorated signing bonus (a $4,333,334 savings)

4.) Converting all but $1,00,000 of his $7.5m salary to a signing bonus while extend his current deal through the 2017 season would change the above numbers to 2014 – $6,725,000 – $1,00,000 salary +300K weight bonus + 200K workout bonus plus $5,225,000 prorated signing bonus (a $4,875,000 savings)

5.) Converting all but $1,00,000 of his $7.5m salary to a signing bonus while extend his current deal through the 2018 season would change the above numbers to 2014 – $6,400,000 – $1,00,000 salary +300K weight bonus + 200K workout bonus plus $4,900,000 prorated signing bonus (a $5,200,000 savings)

6.) Reduce Wilfork’s salary from $7.5 million to $4 million while converting $3.5 million of his salary into a NTLBE incentive – cap savings of $3.5 million

7.) An extension that includes NTLBE incentives. One such deal would extend Wilfork through the 2016 season while converting $2.5 million of his $7.5 million salary into a signing bonus. This cuts his 2014 cash intake by half (from $8 million to $4 million). The deal would offer Wilfork to recoup the money by reaching some NTLBE incentives (examples, Pro Bowl, Total defense – net yards, 46-man active per game roster bonuses, average net yards allowed per rushing play). Such a deal would result in a 2014 cap hit of 6,766,667 – $1,00,000 salary +300K weight bonus + 200K workout bonus plus $5,266,666 prorated signing bonus (a $4,833,333 savings)

To sum, the highest cap number Wilfork can have for the Patriots in 2014 is $11,600,000. The lowest he can have and while being on the roster is $4,555,000. The lowest cap number he can have is after being released – $3.6 million. The question is can Wilfork and the Patriots find a number between $4,555,000 and $11,600,000 that both sides are happy with. There are definitely ways for a deal to happen.