Patriots cap and IR ramifications

A case can be made that the New England Patriots have had to deal with more critical season-ending injury issues than any other team in the NFL, as frontline players such as tight end Rob Gronkowski, nose tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and defensive tackle Tommy Kelly headline those on injured reserve.

The loss of the players on the injured reserve is also felt from a salary cap perspective, as the Patriots have a total of $27.4 million of salary on injured reserve, second most in the NFL behind only the Rams at $28.8 million.

With an assist from Brian McIntyre, a cap expert and owner of MacsFootballBlog.com, below is a list at the top five teams hit hardest from a cap perspective by injured reserve players.

Rams -- $28.8 million

Patriots -- $27.4 million

Texans -- $26.1 million

Bengals -- $21.4 million

Giants - $19.7 million

The next five in line are the Broncos, Bears, Jets, Saints and Colts.

McIntyre also passes along that $27.4 million represents 21.1 percent of the Patriots' adjusted cap number, second to only the Rams at 23.4 percent.

These figures further reinforce: injuries have hit the Patriots hard, both as it relates to on-field impact and salary cap management off of it.