New England Patriots

Patriots still have most salary cap space in NFL as 2024 draft nears

How will the Patriots use their abundance of cap space to improve the roster?

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The New England Patriots entered NFL free agency with the most salary cap space of any team, and despite making several additions to their roster over the last few weeks, they still have enough financial flexibility to make a much-needed major addition on offense.

The Patriots lead the league with $47 million in salary cap space as of Wednesday, per Spotrac. They are one of two teams (along with the Washington Commanders) with more than $40 million in cap space and one of five teams with more than $30 million.

Even if you take into account the cap space the Patriots will need to sign their rookies from the 2024 NFL Draft, they would still have more than enough flexibility to pull off a substantial trade.

And when you look at the players still available in free agency, there aren't any impact players left at the positions the Patriots need to improve the most, such as wide receiver and offensive tackle. Therefore, the trade market is easily the best place for the Patriots to make an immediate upgrade at a premium position.

Scott Zolak would like to see the Patriots pursue a No. 1 wideout via trade, regardless of who starts at quarterback Week 1 next season.

"You're not just done until the draft. You could still pull off trades for players," Zolak said Wednesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Zolak and Bertrand show.

"Are the Patriots working that avenue at all? For a veteran receiver to come in and help any quarterback who's going to play. I don't care if it's (Jacoby) Brissett, Bailey Zappe, Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye. Go get the kid one weapon. One! Because right now, you don't have that weapon. You have a bunch of 2s and 3s, maybe."

The Houston Texans acquired star wide receiver Stefon Diggs and two draft picks from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2025 second-round pick Wednesday. This deal gives Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud -- the No. 2 pick in the 2023 draft -- a legit No. 1 wideout to target next season. Houston has done a nice job surrounding Stroud with weapons on offense. The Texans now have Diggs, Nico Collins and Tank Dell leading their wide receiver group.

The Patriots would be wise to look across the league for a similar kind of move. Tee Higgins requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals last month. Brandon Aiyuk of the San Francisco 49ers has been the subject of trade speculation as he enters the final year of his contract. Higgins or Aiyuk would be a massive upgrade over what the Patriots currently have on their wide receiver depth chart.

One of the reasons why Mac Jones didn't fulfill his potential in New England is the team failed to surround him with enough quality players at the skill positions on offense. The Patriots cannot afford to make that same mistake with their next quarterback, which is why they must use their abundance of cap space to acquire a difference-maker before next season.

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