Newly-named New England Patriots Coach Jerod Mayo, left, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft shake hands on Wednesday. Mayo said the team is ready to spend this offseason. Steven Senne/Associated Press

As the Patriots tumbled to the bottom of the league last season, they simultaneously ranked near the bottom of the NFL in cash spending.

While the Pats may or may not rebound as a winning team in 2024, don’t expect them to remain among the league’s cheaper teams next season.

“We’re bringing in talent, 1,000%. We have a lot of cap space – and cash,” Patriots Coach Jerod Mayo said with a chuckle Monday on WEEI. “We’re ready to burn some cash!”

The Patriots are scheduled to have $66 million in cap space this offseason, fourth-most in the NFL, per Over The Cap. However, while the Patriots have historically spent to the cap, they’ve invested less hard cash – which can create more room under the artificial cap and lure big-ticket free agents – than most teams.

According to ESPN, the Patriots rank dead last in cash spending over the last decade. They ranked 31st out of 32 teams last season, per Over the Cap. In each of the next three seasons, the Pats are scheduled to rank in the bottom five in cash spending, which could change pending the team’s moves in free agency this March.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft recently addressed the topic of cash spending, which became a growing issue over the last four years of Bill Belichick’s tenure.


“(Belichick)’s never come to me, and not gotten everything he wanted from cash spending,” Kraft said last year. “We have never set limits. This is a project of passion, and we want to win. Money spending will never be the issue. I promise you. Or I’ll sell the team.”

Kraft has yet to name Belichick’s successor at the head of his front office, which continues to operate under director of player personnel Matt Groh and director of scouting Eliot Wolf. Kraft has said he wants to learn what he has internally before conducting an external search for that position, something he did not do before promoting Mayo into Belichick’s role as head coach two weeks ago.

Pressed about the Patriots’ lack of spending last August, Belichick defended the team’s cap strategy by insisting the salary cap was more important than the cash numbers.

“Cash spending isn’t really that relevant. It’s cap spending,” Belichick said. “And so teams that spend a lot of cash in one year probably don’t spend a lot of cash in the next year because you can’t just sustain that. We’ve had high years, we’ve had low years, but our cap spending has always been high, and that’s the most competitive position you can be in.”

Asked about maneuvers that allow teams to create more room, such as converting players’ non-guaranteed salaries into guaranteed signing bonus money (or cash), Belichick said it’s a short-term fix that can lead to long-term problems.

“Temporarily you can, but you can’t sustain it, no.” Belichick explained. “You can’t sustain the 20 years of success that we sustained by overspending every year without having to eventually pay those bills and play with a lesser team. So, I think if you look at the teams that have done that, that’s kind of where some of them have ended up; Jacksonville back in ‘14, the Rams are going through it, Tampa’s going through it now.


“I’m not saying there’s anything right or wrong with it, just a different way of doing things and there’s the results for doing it.”

As the Patriots finished 4-13, both the Rams and Buccaneers made the playoffs this year.

Meanwhile, Mayo’s comments on WEEI came less than two months before the start of free agency, when the Patriots could lose several starters – safety Kyle Dugger, tight end Hunter Henry, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne and offensive tackles Trent Brown and Mike Onwenu – to the open market.

Potential outside free agents include Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, Bengals receiver Tee Higgins, Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr., Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans, Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith and Texans tight end Dalton Schultz.

Following Mayo’s comments about the draft Monday, stating quarterback, wide receiver and offensive tackle are the team’s top tackles, the Patriots may be inclined to spend at those positions before targeting them in the draft.

NFL free agency will start with a two-day negotiation period that opens at noon on March 11.

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