As of now, the Patriots have 10 offensive linemen (Logan Mankins, Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Markus Zusevics, Elvis Fisher, Chris Barker, Josh Kline, Brice Schwab) signed for the 2014 season. Their respective cap numbers are $10,500,000, $4,083,334, $3,750,000, $2,717,429, $743,968, $499,334, $497,500, $495,000, $495,000 and $495,000. I expect the Pats to sign Braxston Cave, Jordan Devey, and R.J. Mattes current practice squad members) to futures contracts ($420,000 2014 salary) right after the Patriots are finished playing in the playoffs.
I do not expect Mankins to take a paycut this year. I will not be surprised if he restructures his deal to free up cap space for the Patriots. One possible deal would be to convert $4.5 million of his 2014 $6.5 million salary into a signing bonus which could create a cap savings of $3 million while pushing out $1.5 million of signing bonus proration to the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Dan Connolly could be signed to an extension that could lower his 2014 cap number by 1 to 2 million dollars. He could also be released which would create $2.505 million in cap space for the Patriots.
The Patriots would probably like to leave themselves a cushion just in case Sebastian Vollmer reaches his NTLBE playing time incentive – $1 million (if he plays 80 percent of offensive snaps) or $2 million (if he plays 90 percent of offensive snaps).
The Patriots hold a fifth year option on Solder that will be worth the average value of the 3rd through 25th highest cap numbers at the offensive line position in 2014. That option must be picked up before May 4, 2014. The option is guaranteed for injury and becomes fully guaranteed if Nate Solder is on the Patriots roster at the start of the 2015 league year. Right now, I project that the option amount to be $7.62 million. I expect the option to be picked up on May 3rd and for Solder to be extended after the 2014 season but before the start of the 2015 regular season.
Marcus Cannon will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2014 season. If he and some NFL team sees him as a starting offensive tackle, then 2014 will be his last year with the Patriots.
Ryan Wendell will become an UFA once the 2014 league year begins. My gut feeling is that Ryan is probably among the top 10 to 15 centers in the NFL which usually equates to a contract that averages between 3 to 4 million a year.
Will Svitek will also be an unrestricted free agent. I see him returning to the Patriots to a similar deal that he had in 2013 – 500K in playing time incentives, 46-man per-game roster bonus