"Cap hell" with basically zero dollars allocated to the 2021 cap, lol. You guys buy anything, it's incredible. Not to mention by restructuring Brady they could have significantly lessened his dead money impact in the 2020 cap. A whole lot of avenues to have remained competitive until he retired.
What does any of this ^ mean... other than you don't know a damn thing about the salary cap?
After 2019, a quarter of the Patriots cap for 2020 was gone, it was used on 70+ player's no longer with the team... dead cap.
They had to replace or re-sign 12 starters or major contributors in 2020, including the entire LB'ing unit and most expensive player on the team... the QB.
Brady's cap debt couldn't be wished away, he also wanted a new contract. So any new deal he signed would have been new money added to his existing 13.5 million dollar dead cap hit. Brady's dead cap, Antonio Brown's dead cap and Michael Bennett's dead cap hit... the three largest dead cap hits on the team combined, didn't equal Stephon Gilmore's cap hit for 2020.
Gilmore's cap hit was one of the largest in the league in 2020 because they used his contract as a slush fund in 2018 and 2019 and kicked cap debt down the road so they could sign players at the trade deadline. In 2021, after signing 250 million dollars in new free agents, guess whose cap hit was the largest on the team... Gilmore's... again.
It wasn't that they could afford to sign Brady, it was they couldn't afford to sign Brady and put a competitive team around him. To attempt this they would have to continue borrowing against future cap, even then the team wouldn't be good enough to win a ring. Tom wanted name brand veteran weapons... those are expensive. There was no path forward that led to more rings.... not unless Tom at 43 years old was willing to waste a year on a bad team while they cleaned up their cap situation. Why should he do that?
Splitting up and going their separate ways was the best thing for both player and team... something I was saying when Tom was still undecided about leaving the Patriots in the offseason before 2020. They Patriots only had a massive amount of money to spend in 2021 because they moved on and started over, because they cleared that dead cap... it wasn't just sitting there unused.