The Patriots currently have $10.2 million in salary cap space, according to NFL Players Association calculations, which provides context as to the team's flexibility to sign players.
The club is always going to want to leave itself some cushion on the cap, and in time, rookies will have to be accounted for as well. So it makes sense to think that the Patriots will tread lightly in terms of signings that are significantly richer than minimum levels.
Another area of interest is that the Steelers currently have $2.06 million in salary cap space. The Patriots had previously hosted Steelers restricted free agent WR Emmanuel Sanders on a visit, and the deadline to sign Sanders to an offer sheet is April 19.
If the Patriots are still considering Sanders, the $2.06 million figure shows how close the Steelers are to the cap, and how New England could potentially structure an offer sheet with a $3 million first-year cap charge that could put more stress on Pittsburgh's cap and potentially make it a challenge to match.