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Pats positioned well in free agency

In a piece now posted on ESPNBoston.com, Mike Reiss notes that the Patriots are well positioned to strike in free agency because of their strategic planning.

Not long after owners and players ended the NFL lockout in 2011, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had warned that the economics of the league were changing and teams that prepared in advance would be in the best position to capitalize.

Specifically, Kraft said that the salary cap would remain relatively flat for several years. Gone were the days when clubs could rely on a dramatic spike from one year to the next to provide financial flexibility.

Not everyone bought it, including some of Kraft's fellow owners who kept spending and spending. Now those doubters are paying a different kind of price, forced to release players to get under the slow-growing salary cap (hello, Carolina Panthers). Every day, it seems, more quality players are being cut, creating a buyer's market for clubs that were disciplined in not writing out too many big checks over the last two post-lockout seasons.

We're now 20 months removed from the lockout and it's clear that Kraft wasn't blowing smoke about the changing economic landscape. It's also clear that the Patriots have strategically positioned themselves as well as almost any team in the NFL to benefit from others' missteps -- both this offseason and next, when a similar dynamic is expected.

To read the piece, CLICK HERE.