My Community The biggest NFL veterans who could be cut in the 2020 off-season

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  • Posted By : admin
  • Posted On : Mar 16, 2020
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  • The NFL’s salary cap leads to plenty of roster churn every year. Franchises are tasked with balancing expensive proven veterans with cheaper talent. That means some pricey athletes could find themselves looking for new homes — even if they’re still in their primes.

    This off-season has already seen All-Pro tight end Greg Olsen left to ponder his football future.

    These are the other veterans who could join him on the free-agent market, ranked by order of how much they can save their respective teams by leaving this spring.

    Already gone

    Josh Norman, CB, Washington

    Savings from cutting Norman: $12.4 million

    Norman was just one of many things that went wrong for Washington in 2019. He suffered through his worst season in the league, where he gave up more than 11 yards per target and accounted for -1 points saved, per SIS. That’s the lowest score among any cornerback who started at least five games last fall.

    This sudden downturn at age 32 could put Dan Snyder’s former prized signing on the chopping block. The 2015 All-Pro has failed to reach that standard since joining Washington in 2016. As a result, the club plans to release him and make him a free agent this off-season.

    Wide receiver Paul Richardson, who lasted just two seasons into his five-year, $40 million contract with Washington, will be released as well. Ryan Kerrigan, 31 years old and headed into the final year of his contract with none of the $11.6 million owed to him guaranteed, could also be up for discussion.

    Prince Amukamara, CB, Chicago Bears

    Savings from cutting Amukamara: $9 million

    Amukamara has been a steady, if unspectacular cornerback in his nine seasons as a pro. While he made 42 starts for the Bears the past three years, Chicago felt it could better spend the additional $9 million owed to him elsewhere. Like perhaps on a veteran quarterback to push Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job?

    Marcell Dareus
    , DL, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Savings from cutting Dareus: $20 million

    Dareus, at his best, is worth $20 million+ annually. The problem is, he hasn’t been that player in several years. Even if he was, the 2020 Jaguars — currently with negative cap space — probably couldn’t afford him. As such, they declined his 2020 option and made him a free agent on the eve of the Scouting Combine.

    Dareus broke through with a 10-sack season in 2014 that he’s been chasing ever since. In just six games, he averaged a career-low 2.2 tackles for an underwhelming Jaguars defense in 2019. More telling, those tackles came an average of 4.2 yards past the line of scrimmage, which is an untenable mark for a player who is supposed to be pushing blockers backward and creating chaos in the trenches.

    While he can still be a useful presence in the middle of a defensive line, he’s due for a major pay cut this off-season.

    Russell Okung, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

    Savings from cutting Okung: $13 million

    Okung’s release would have been a surprise. The veteran left tackle played well in 2019 when he was on the field — but that only lasted six games due to a pulmonary embolism and, later in the season, a groin injury.

    While he was capable, he didn’t fit in with LA’s rebuild. Rather than release a Pro Bowl-caliber blocker, he’ll be traded to the Panthers in exchange for guard Trai Turner.

    Turner is signed through 2021 compared to Okung’s 2020, and his $12.8 million cap hit for the upcoming season is less than Okung’s $15.5m. His cap number jumps to $15.4m next offseason, however — so we could see Turner wind his way to this list in 2021.

    A.J. Bouye, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

    Savings from cutting Bouye: $11.4 million

    Like Dareus, Bouye is a highly paid defender who has seen better days. And like his colleague, he’s looking at a change of venue this off-season thanks to the Jaguars’ cap crunch. He was traded to the Broncos for a fourth-round pick after news leaked about his imminent release in Jacksonville.

    Bouye could be a boon for Denver, but he’ll have to put a disappointing season behind him. The former Texan allowed opposing QBs to post a 106.0 passer rating against him in 2019 while completing two-thirds of their passes with him in coverage.

    With Jacksonville eager to find a way around Nick Foles’ cap-clogging $22 million average salary, Bouye’s departure may be the next step in a mini-rebuild of the Jacksonville defense.

    No decision yet

    Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals

    Savings from cutting Dalton: $17.7 million

    Dalton gave the Bengals nine seasons of mostly good, never great quarterbacking. Now he has no place on a team ready to draft Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. Dalton’s career in tiger stripes is almost certainly over.

    Even though Cincinnati will need a veteran quarterback to help ease Burrow’s presumptive transition from LSU to the NFL, it’s time for both sides to move on. The money saved by releasing the Pro Bowl quarterback can be spent acquiring weapons and bolstering the offensive line tasked with keeping Burrow’s jersey clean in 2020.

    Sammy Watkins, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

    Savings from cutting Watkins: $14 million

    Watkins has shown flashes of star-making play throughout his six-year career, but has ultimately failed to live up to the potential that made him the fourth overall pick in 2014. This past season was no different. He began it with a three-touchdown, 198-yard performance in the Chiefs’ season opener, had just one 100-yard game in the next 13 games, and finished the year with 14 catches for 288 yards in the postseason.

    That makes it hard to justify Watkins’ $21 million cap hit for 2020 — especially now that reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes is eligible for what’s sure to be a massive contract extension. With Chris Jones careening toward free agency, the team’s decision may come down to either its second-best wide receiver or the defensive lineman who helped save a Super Bowl win.

    Then again, in the biggest game of his life, he put Richard Sherman on roller skates.

    Sammy Watkins diced up Richard Sherman, then Patrick Mahomes just had to drop a pass in the bucket

    It’s possible the two sides find a middle ground on a restructured contract that extends Watkins’ contract while spreading his massive cap hit and guaranteed cash into the future.

    Derek Carr
    , QB, Las Vegas Raiders

    Savings from cutting Carr: $13.6 million

    Carr’s future with the Raiders is very much up in the air. Reports suggest the franchise is interested in making free agent Tom Brady the face of its Las Vegas debut.

    Brady may be a long shot, but this year’s free-agent crop includes plenty of veteran alternatives should the Raiders want to swap out QBs. Las Vegas could also package its two first-round picks this April and move up to select a rookie quarterback at the draft.

    The team has a lot of spending room this offseason, so moving Carr isn’t a priority, even if it lures a young QB to Nevada. He remains an efficient, if low-impact passer who could bring back a decent return via trade. There isn’t really a glaring reason for the Raiders to cut him loose, but this is Jon Gruden we’re talking about. You can’t rule out any splash-making move in advance of his team’s first season in Vegas.

    Janoris Jenkins, CB, New Orleans Saints

    Savings from cutting Jenkins: $11.3 million

    The Saints will have to figure out what to do with all three of their quarterbacks — Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater, and Taysom Hill — and are already strapped for cash heading into the new fiscal year. One easy space-saving move would make New Orleans the second team to cut Jenkins in the past three months.

    The Saints claimed Jenkins after he was released by the Giants for a combination of on-field malaise and off-field concerns. He performed well in New Orleans despite the team’s sudden playoff exit, but his one-year, $11+ million cap number may be too steep. There’s a chance the Saints work out a longer-term deal in order to massage those numbers and keep him in black and gold moving forward.

    Joe Flacco, QB, Denver Broncos

    Savings from cutting Flacco: $10 million

    The Joe Flacco who led the Ravens to a Super Bowl XLVII win is no more. This is the era of Joe Flacco who is barely a replacement-level passer.

    The former Super Bowl MVP has been mostly forgettable the past five seasons, recording an 83.0 passer rating and a 26-33 record as a starter. He also had his lead role usurped in both Baltimore (Lamar Jackson) and Denver (Drew Lock) after midseason injuries. General manager John Elway could keep him in Colorado to continue in his role as Lock’s mentor, or the Broncos could cut Flacco and invest a fraction of the savings involved to lure an available free-agent quarterback to town instead.