Patriots rank low in cash spending

Prior to the start of free agency, the point was made that the New England Patriots are spending as much as almost any team in the NFL. Thus, the issue wasn't spending as much as it was getting more bang for their buck.

As part of the piece, the following figures were passed along:

In 2013, the NFL salary cap was set at $123 million. The Patriots' cash spending, according to sources not affiliated with the Patriots who tracks figures for all NFL clubs, was $129,656,000.

In 2012, when the NFL salary cap was set at $120.6 million, the Patriots' cash spending was about $168 million.

In 2011, with a salary cap of $120 million, the team's cash spending was around $130 million.

And in the 2010 uncapped year, the Patriots' cash spending was $151 million.

For the '10 and '12 seasons, the Patriots ranked second among all NFL teams in terms of spending cash, according to the independent data.

We're revisiting this today because the Patriots' cash spending for 2014 actually ranks near the bottom of the NFL this offseason.

In one recent accounting of the numbers, the Patriots' cash spending hovered around the $100 million mark this year, even though the salary cap is $133 million. It's a reminder of the significant difference between cash spending and spending to the salary cap.

Only four teams have a lower total in cash spending in 2014 based on this recent accounting of the numbers -- Jets, Texans, Cowboys and Lions.

The numbers stood out to me because they counter the theory that the Patriots are "going for it" this year based on a ticking clock with Tom Brady's career.

In fact, it's Brady's modest $2 million salary that accounts for a big reason why the team's cash spending ranks so low for 2014.