This blog has been too kind to Adalius Thomas and his performance on the field. He has been unable to regularly get to the quarterback. His #3 salary on the Patriots behind Tom Brady and Randy Moss is totally unwarranted. Even though it will cause a very large salary cap hit of approximately $13.5 million, the Patriots will almost certainly cut (or trade) Thomas in the offseason. The Pats will be able to avoid paying Thomas the $4.9 million and $5.9 million salaries over the next two years.
There are a few possible scenarios to unfold for Thomas in the offseason…
Scenario 1: Uncapped Year
If the NFL is unable to come to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) then the salary cap rules next year will mostly be suspended. It is somewhat unclear how the year will play out but the Patriots will be free to cut Adalius Thomas and take the entire $13.5 million salary cap hit in the year. Since this money has already been paid out as a bonus the Pats will largely be unaffected by getting rid of Thomas and his contract. It is possible that if the parties agree to a cap the following year there could be some consequences but they are far from clear. There is a high probability that the Pats will get off scot free by cutting Thomas in this scenario.
Scenario 2: Capped Year, Thomas cut before June 30th
In a capped year scenario the Pats will have to take an uncharacteristically large salary cap charge for a single player. For this year the Pats only have $3 million or so in "dead money." If they were to cut Thomas before June 30th the remainder of Thomas's $13.5 million prorated signing bonus will have to be counted against next year's salary cap! This would likely be the biggest hit the Pats have ever taken for a player not on the roster.
Scenario 3: Capped Year, Thomas cut after June 30th
If a player is cut after June 30th his salary cap charge can be split over the current and subsequent season. In this scenario the Pats can take two $6.75 million hits a year over 2010 and 2011.
Given Thomas's current performance it is difficult to believe that he will be a part of the team next year. How his departure affects the Patriots salary cap situation remains to be seen.