Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings were released this week by the New York Giants, jettisoning players who could still produce in 2016, but not at the level they were taking up on the salary cap. Who are some other big names that could need to re-negotiate, lest a team face a decision of cutting them soon?
The following players all have cap charges where the difference between the 2017 cap number and any dead money (if applicable) still provides at least $6 million in savings for a team. Not all will be released–plenty of teams have the cap space to afford them–but you can bet discussions are being had internally, if a team is trying to sign other long-term deals or wants to clear space for free agency. All info from Spotrac.
#1 ADRIAN PETERSON, VIKINGS ($18 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $0 Dead Money; team saves $18 Million)
The Minnesota Vikings have to decide whether they will pickup an option of $18 million by the March 9th deadline. They won’t be picking up that, because, well, you can’t afford to pay any running back that amount–even a future Hall of Famer–when he is past 30. Will the two sides reach an agreement on a lesser amount to keep Peterson in Minnesota?
#2 DARRELLE REVIS, JETS ($15.3 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $6 Million Dead Money; team saves $9.6 Million)
Darrelle Revis had the worst year of his career last year. He said he is still playing because he is “under contract.” That may change by March as the Jets should be entering full rebuilding mode after last year’s debacle.
#3 JAY CUTLER, BEARS ($16 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $2 Million Dead Money; team saves $14 Million)
The Jay Cutler era in Chicago is likely coming to an end, and 2017 is the year that the team can move on financially, with very little dead money remaining.
#4 COLIN KAEPERNICK, 49ERS ($19.4 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $4.9 Million Dead Money; team saves $14.4 Million)
It already appeared to be Kaepernick’s last hurrah in San Francisco, independent of any stands that the quarterback took last season. With a new head coach and GM combination and a fresh start coming in the Bay, it is highly unlikely that the team pays Kaepernick again.
#5 BRANDON FLOWERS, CHARGERS ($11 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $4 Million Dead Money; team saves $7 Million)
Flowers had concussions last year, and ultimately was put on IR. With Jason Verrett and Casey Heyward with the Chargers, he is expendable and will likely be cut to save the team a chunk of money.
#6 DANNY AMENDOLA, PATRIOTS ($7.8 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $1.4 Million Dead Money; team saves $6.4 Million)
The Patriots are in great shape in terms of the cap entering 2017. The organization also lacks sentimentality and will move on when something does not make sense. Does paying Amendola as the 4th-highest cap charge on the team make sense, when he isn’t even among the top 4 weapons in the passing game? Amendola has less than 1,100 yards receiving over the last three years combined, and turns 32 next season. That saved money could be used to add to an offer to a bigger target like Alshon Jeffery, or to help extend Rob Gronkowski.
#7 VONTAE DAVIS, COLTS ($10.3 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $1.3 Million Dead Money; team saves $9 Million)
Vontae Davis cannot be considered one of the top cornerbacks in the league at this point, but is paid like one. You also have a new GM in place who has no ties to Davis and this seems like a no-brainer move.
#8 ADAM JONES, BENGALS ($7.7 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $1.3 Million Dead Money; team saves $6.3 Million)
Jones has a lengthy history of notable incidents, both on and off the field, and in January again was in the news for an expletive-filled rant on video during an arrest. He also turns 34, and you wonder if Cincinnati will be ready to move on if they can also save a large chunk of money.
#9 RUSSELL OKUNG, BRONCOS ($11.7 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $0 Dead Money; team saves $11.7 Million)
As detailed here, Okung signed a 5-year deal with the Broncos last offseason, but it was basically a one-year deal with a 4-year option for the team that would then kick in. Denver has to decide whether it wants to pay Okung that kind of money going forward, with cap charges near $12 million per year, as he approaches 30. This is the month that they can walk away or re-negotiate a different deal.
#10 JAMAAL CHARLES, CHIEFS ($6.2 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $0 Dead Money; team saves $6.2 Million)
Charles has played eight games total the last two years, as he was still not able to get back from the knee injury suffered in 2015 and had to have additional procedures. He turned 30 in December. I think Kansas City would like to have him back, but not at that price when he is no guarantee to contribute again.
#11 MARIO WILLIAMS, DOLPHINS ($10.5 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $2 Million Dead Money; team saves $8.5 Million)
This one is going to happen for sure. Williams fell off a cliff his last year in Buffalo, and then showed last year there was still a little bit further to fall, getting benched after five weeks and finishing with 1.5 sacks.
#12 JASON WITTEN, COWBOYS ($12.3 Million Cap Charge in 2017; $4.9 Million Dead Money; team saves $7.4 Million)
Look, I don’t think the Cowboys will cut Witten. But right now, according to Spotrac, they are dead last in cap space and are over the cap by $10 million. The most obvious source of freeing up some space is trading Tony Romo, but his pro-rated signing bonuses mean that this year’s savings would only be about $5 million (future years, of course, would be off the books and give Dallas more flexibility in 2018 and 2019).
After that, the team is going to have to get creative, because there aren’t any real albatross contracts that are quick fixes. With Jason Witten turning 35 and his contract being the 5th highest non-Romo cap hit on the team, he would seem a candidate to try to re-negotiate something.
OTHERS TO WATCH: Connor Barwin, Eagles (save $8.4 Million), Brandon Marshall, Jets (save $7.5 Million), Ryan Clady, Jets (save $10 Million), Nick Foles, Chiefs (save $10.8 Million), Alex Boone, Vikings (save $6.7 Million), Mark Barron, Rams (save $7 Million), Robert Griffin, Browns (save $7 Million), Elvis Dumervil, Ravens (save $6 Million), Jared Odrick, Jaguars (save $8.5 Million), Pernell McPhee, Bears (save $6.3 Million).