NFL Notebook: Identifying possible cap casualties from the AFC and potential Patriots fit

(Getty Images)

With a shrinking salary cap for the 2021 league year due to Covid (latest reports have it around $180 million) you can anticipate a bunch of belt-tightening around the NFL in the coming weeks ahead of the March 17 start of the new league year.

Here are some of the players in the AFC who could be cut loose by their respective team, and whether they would fit the Patriots. Remember, players released by their teams don't count against the compensatory pick formula, so expect the Patriots to go hard in this area to address some weaknesses:


WR John Brown: Tons of speed and potential, but injuries are a constant problem. Was limited to nine games last season and 33 receptions. The Bills might indeed look for better. Patriots fit? Yes, but go easy with the injury history. Re-signing Dameire Byrd would be about the same move.

DE Jerry Hughes: Still an excellent pass rusher, but usually doesn't play much against the run. Patriots fit? Yes, but not as a starter. Would have to be a cheap deal as just a designated pass rusher.

ED Mario Addison: As a post-June 1 cut, the veteran defensive end would save the team over $6 million. He's still a good player, but the Bills did draft AJ Epenesa last year. Patriots fit? Iffy. As a veteran pass rusher, yes. But he's declining as a run defender.