With just week left in the 2018 NFL season, general managers will begin to assess their roster looking for ways to purge players who haven’t lived up to their contract or are no longer an affordable option for the team, leading to an increase in talent in the free agency class. Here are players from all 32 teams who might get the pink slip, with salary cap projections given by Over the Cap:
Cap space: $4.25 million
Arizona finds themselves in a bit of salary cap hell, which is the worst position to be in given the fact that the team is also in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. To make matters worse, there really aren’t a lot of players on their roster who can offer much in cap relief. The one player who can offer the most relief is cornerback Patrick Peterson, who will free up $9.98 million in cap space if he is released, but given his talent level, Arizona will likely try to hold onto him and trade him instead of releasing him. Given his request to be traded earlier in the season, it’s hard to imagine he would agree to a pay cut. Safety Antoine Bethea is another option. He has been a middling option at safety this season, turns 35 in July and provides $2.32 million in cap relief. Another name to watch is Larry Fitzgerald. A franchise icon, Fitzgerald isn’t the same player he once was but he is not just a great locker room presence, but he has always been a great ambassador for the franchise and the community, but his $16.85 million cap figure is just too high and Arizona would only get $1 million in cap relief if he is released. The more likely option for Fitzgerald is that the Cardinals restructure his salary to something more team-friendly.
Cap space: $1.71 million
Like Arizona, the Falcons are stuck in a position where they have minimal cap space and an underwhelming on-field product. While Arizona began their rebuild last season, the Falcons look like they will need to begin their rebuild in 2019. Fortunately, the Falcons have a few more obvious cut candidates than the Cardinals. Julio Jones will not be released, but he is an easy candidate to have his deal restructured to lower his cap number, but another receiver, Mohammed Sanu could become expendable with the addition of Calvin Ridley and the fact that the Falcons will get $4.6 million in cap relief from his release. Defensive end Brooks Reed provides the Falcons with $4.5 million of cap relief if he is released as well. Cornerback Robert Alford has struggled tremendously in 2018. He has allowed more passing yards (737) than any over cornerback in the league this season and only three players have allowed more touchdown passes. He has failed to intercept a pass and, even worse, opposing quarterbacks have a 141.7 passer rating when targeting him. With the Falcons able to save $7.9 million by releasing, he should pack his bags once the season ends.
Cap space: $32.96 million
Baltimore is in good shape heading into the offseason. They have cap space and a new quarterback playing on a rookie contract, which means it will be a few years before they have to hand out a big payday to the most expensive position in football. That said, the franchise’s former quarterback, Joe Flacco is a likely cap casualty candidate as his $26.5 million cap number is way too high for a backup. The Ravens gain $10.5 million by releasing him. Cornerback Jimmy Smith could be on his way out as well between his deteriorating play, his age (he turns 31 in July) and the $9.5 million Baltimore stands to gain from his release. Baltimore has made more to prepare to move on from him in recent years, including adding Marlon Humphrey, Anthony Averett and Tavon Young in recent drafts. Safety Eric Weddle was the same elite safety we saw in San Diego when he joined the Ravens in 2016, but his play over the past two years haven’t been at the same level, but he receives elite safety-level pay. He turns 34 next month and the Ravens can gain $6.5 million in cap space by releasing him. One interesting name to watch is wide receiver Michael Crabtree. He is in the midst of his worst season since an injury-shortened 2013 campaign, and Baltimore would gain $4.67 million with his release, but the Ravens are razor-thin at talent at wide receiver and he may be better fit serving as the No. 2 receiver/mentorship role if the Ravens take a receiver early in the draft, similar to his role in Oakland with Amari Cooper.
Cap space: $90.85 million
With a lot of cap space to work with, the Bills won’t have too much dead weight to shed. LeSean McCoy is the first name to come to mind. He is 31 and seems to have hit a wall in 2018. Buffalo will be able to replace him in the draft with a mid-round pick and save $6.43 million. Tight end Charles Clay was acquired by the Bills on a five year deal that makes him currently the eighth-highest paid tight end in the NFL. he has never lived up to his contract and in 2018 has had the worst season of his tenure in Buffalo, catching 21 passes for 184 yards and zero touchdowns. Pro Football Focus grades him out as the 35th best run blocker at tight end and the Bills can save $4.5 million by releasing him.
Cap space: $27.7 million
Mario Addison is the only effective edge rusher on the roster right now, but he’s turning 32 when the 2019 season begin and the Panthers can save $6 million by releasing him. Tight end Greg Olsen has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons, but the way his contract is set up, Carolina would actually lose money if they released him. Expect the Panthers to instead restructure his deal as he transitions into more of a backup role as rookie Ian Thomas takes over the starting duties. Wide receiver Torrey Smith has caught eight passes all year and is scheduled to earn a non-guaranteed $5 million in 2019. Even with Devin Funchess potentially leaving in free agency, Smith should still be expendable.
Cap space: $20.25 million
The biggest question the Bears will have to answer is what to do with wide receiver Allen Robinson. He hasn’t emerged as the weapon the Bears were hoping for, but he is also just one season removed from an ACL tear. Chicago gains $11 million in cap space from releasing him, but I think they retain him and possibly restructure his contract. Tight end Dion Sims is making $6 million as the team’s No. 3 tight end, so it is hard to see him returning. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bears release inside linebacker Danny Trevathan as the Bears can gain $6.4 million by releasing him and significant money spread across the rest of their linebackers.
Cap space: $54.2 million
While Andy Dalton’s name has been floated around, the Bengals seem committed to keeping him. The real storyline for the Bengals is wide receiver A.J. Green, who is entering the final year of his contract and was just placed on injured reserve for the second time in three seasons. A potential rebuild could be looming and if the two sides can’t agree on a new contract, he could become a hot commodity on the trade market. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has struggled with consistency and penalties in 2018 as well as concussion issues. Cincinnati would gain $6.8 million in cap space with his release. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict could be at the end of the line as well. While the Bengals have dealt with his dirty hits and suspensions over the years, he was a capable player during that time. His production fell off of a cliff in 2018 and the Bengals could gain $6.85 million by releasing him.
Cap space: $87.04 million
After spending years in the cellar of the AFC North, the Browns are again flush with cap space, except this time, they may be an attractive free agency destination due to the influx of youth and potential on this roster. Jamie Collins has been one of the NFL’s worst linebackers over the past two years and is currently the No. 51 player at his position according to Pro Football Focus. The Browns will gain $9.25 million in cap space from his release. With so much cap space available, there just aren’t many viable cut candidates.
Cap space: $54.96 million
Linebacker Sean Lee has always been a beloved player, but he can’t get past his injuries. With Leighton Vander Esch emerging as one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL, Dallas will likely cut Lee and get back $7 million in cap space. Wide receiver Allen Hurns was a bust signing and part of the reason why Dallas ultimately surrendered a first-round pick to the Raiders to acquire Amari Cooper. Earning $6.25 million to be the team’s No. 4 receiver, it’s hard to see him staying in Dallas.
Cap space: $48.63 million
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders has been one of the more underappreciated receivers during his time in Denver, but his age (32), salary ($12.94 million) and health (he recently tore his Achilles) is signaling the end of his tenure with the Broncos. Denver gains $10.25 million from releasing him. Linebacker Brandon Marshall has missed the last five games with a bone bruise, but has not been the same player he once was over the past two seasons. Denver gains $5 million by releasing him. Safety Darian Stewart is currently the No. 70 safety according to Pro Football Focus for the second straight year. Denver would gain $3.6 million by releasing him.
Cap space: $40.85 million
Guard T.J. Lang has missed most of the season after landing on injured reserve. Since coming to Detroit in 2017, he has been an effective guard, but hasn’t played to the same level that he had with the Packers. He turns 32 in September and the Lions can gain $8.84 million in cap space with his release. Wide receiver Marvin Jones was ineffective before being placed on injured reserve this year. Detroit traded Golden Tate at the trade deadline and may look to overhaul the wide receiver position with Kenny Golladay being their new primary weapon for Matt Stafford. Right tackle Ricky Wagner may have his contract restructured, but it’s hard to imagine he would be released.
Green Bay Packers
Cap space: $45.29 million
Green Bay has a sizeable chunk of money available to spend on free agents as well as good number of potential players who could be released. The team may not bring back impending free agent Clay Matthews, but that won’t stop them from releasing Nick Perry who just can’t stay healthy. Green Bay would get $3.34 million in cap space from his release. Tight end Jimmy Graham was added last year to be a safety valve for Aaron Rodgers, but age 32, he’s not longer the pure athlete he once was and the Packers can add $5.33 million in cap space with his release. Another player who has struggled with injuries is tackle Bryan Bulaga, with Jason Spriggs seemingly ready to take over at right tackle. Green Bay can release Bulaga and open up $6.75 million in cap space. Safety Tramon Williams had a resurgence in 2017, but he couldn’t replicate his performance in his return to Green Bay. He’s turning 36 and the Packers would gain $4.75 million in cap space with his release.
Cap space: $73.85 million
The most interesting name to watch is wide receiver Demariyus Thomas. He has a non-guaranteed cap number of $14 million, turns 31 on Christmas and hasn’t been the effective No. 2 receiver the Texans were hoping for, but Houston isn’t struggling for cap space and with Will Fuller coming back from an ACL tear, he can give Houston a needed insurance policy in case Fuller isn’t ready to go at the beginning of the season. Houston is think at cornerback, especially with Kareem Jackson slated to hit free agency, but it’s hard to see Kevin Johnson returning. 2019 is his fifth-year option season, which means his contract is guaranteed for injury only. He has struggled to stay healthy in his career. so the Texans may not want to roll the dice and instead take the extra $9.07 million in cap space Houston may also shed salary at running back. Lamar Miller is having his best season with the Texans since signing with them in 2016, but he’s just not worth the $7.25 million cap number. The Texans can replace him with someone cheaper in the draft and gain $6.25 million in cap space.
Cap space: $124.41 million
With so much money in cap space, expect the cuts to be minimal. Tight end Jack Doyle has become expendable following Eric Ebron’s breakout campaign and would free up $5.65 million in cap space, but the Colts also like to run two tight end sets, so they could restructure his deal.
Cap space: -$7.1 million
The Jaguars window quickly closed on them after a promising 2017 season. Now, they are over the cap and have to make cuts. Quarterback Blake Bortles will reportedly not return, opening $4.5 million in cap space and defensive tackle Maik Jackson has also said he doesn’t think the Jaguars will retain him, which would give the Jaguars $11 million in cap space. Jacksonville could open up $10.59 million in cap space from also releasing defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and still have a pair of solid interior defenders with Calais Campbell and rookie Taven Bryan. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been out since early October with a core muscle injury and could be expendable, freeing up $4.75 million in cap space. With Leonard Fournette back, Carlos Hyde has become an afterthought on this team and Jacksonville needs the $4.75 million in cap space he creates.
Kansas City Chiefs
Cap space: $44.43 million
The Chiefs are in very good shape cap-wise, but their biggest issue in the offseason is finding a way to retain Dee Ford, who is in the middle of a breakout season as well as begin negotiations with Tyreek Hill, who enters the final year of his deal. Justin Houston has been effective this year, but he has a cap number of $21.1 million that I am sure the Chiefs would like to reduce. Daniel Sorenson is another potential cap casualty, but with Eric Berry’s health constantly in question, he serves a role on the team. Kansas City could move on from inside linebacker Reggie Ragland, who ranks 36 out of 56 linebackers in run stop percentage, could be on the roster bubble this offseason. The Chiefs would get $1.25 million in cap space if they do not retain him.
Los Angeles Chargers
Cap space: $29.31 million
The Chargers will likely enter the 2019 offseason without either of their starting defensive tackles from 2018. Brandon Mebane is a free agency and Corey Liuget could get cut for $8 million in relief following a season marred by a PED suspension, underwhelming play and a trip to injured reserve. Melvin Ingram turns 30 and the team may ask to restructure his $18.63 million cap number, but I can’t see them releasing him. Travis Benjamin is making $6.5 million as the team’s No. 4 receiver and Los Angeles gets $5.25 million in cap relief if they release him. Mike Pouncey is still being paid as if he was a Pro Bowler when in reality he hasn’t had a solid season since 2015. The Chargers get $5 million in cap space if they release him.
Los Angeles Rams
Cap space: $37.47 million
The Rams will have to begin contract negotiations with Jared Goff, but they still have time (and cap space) to build another dominant team. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers gives the Rams an extra $10 million if he is released, which will help them in their pursuit to retain Ndamukong Suh while inside linebacker Mark Barron has finally hit rock bottom in 2018, grading out as one of the worst linebackers in coverage and against the run. Los Angeles receives $6.33 million in cap space if he is released. Cornerback Aqib Talib turns 33 and with a non-guaranteed salary of $8 million, there’s a good chance he will be given the ultimatum of either taking a pay cut or getting released.
Cap space: $21.13 million
Defensive end Robert Quinn was signed a massive contract extension with the Rams in 2014 and has never lived up to the deal. He enters the final year of that deal but there is now way Miami will keep him for his non-guaranteed $12.32 million figure. Wide receiver DeVante Parker is entering his fifth-year option season and has never put enough together to justify the $9.39 million price tag. The Dolphins signed guard Josh Sitton last year, but he immediately tore his rotator cuff. He turns 33 next summer and Miami needs his $5 million in cap space Linebacker Kiko Alonso is a fan favorite, due much in part to his Cuban roots, but he just isn’t a good football player. Miami can get $4.74 million in cap space from releasing him, but I couldn’t be surprised if he took a pay cut to stay.
Cap space: $11.35 million
The Vikings need to overhaul an offensive line that has done a poor job protecting Kirk Cousins. Guard Mike Remmers should be the first domino to fall. Grading out as the No. 51 guard according to Pro Football Focus, the Vikings can get $4.55 million in cap space by releasing him. Cornerback Trae Waynes has been a bust of a draft pick and the Vikings may move on to recoup the $9.07 million in cap space. Minnesota may approach tight end Kyle Rudolph to restructure his deal also.
New England Patriots
Cap space: $25.86 million
Rob Gronkowski is arguably the greatest tight end of all time, but he has had trouble staying healthy and contemplated retirement last year. New England can gain $10 million in cap space by releasing him. He’s not the only tight end who could be sent packing as backup Dwayne Allen is dead weight with his $7.4 million non-guaranteed salary. Don’t be surprised if Tom Brady does another one of his seemingly annual restructures.
New Orleans Saints
Cap space: $19.09 million
Drew Brees has a massive $33.5 million cap figure that New Orleans will have to get reduced, so expect Brees to restructure his deal. A.J. Klein has been a mediocre player for the Saints and New Orleans can get $4 million back in cap space by releasing him. Wide receiver Cameron Meredith has been a non-factor in New Orleans, so the team could part with him and recoup an extra $3.71 million in cap space. The Saints also have a lot of money tied to the offensive line, but they have performed well, especially in pass protection, so it’s hard to imagine anyone is released, though restructures could happen to Andrus Peat or Larry Warford.
New York Giants
Cap space: $32.66 million
Eli Manning is no longer worth his $23.2 million cap figure, but with no heir on the roster, it’s hard to imagine New York just releases him even if they get $17 million in cap space to do so, but a restructure is definitely in play. Olivier Vernon may face the ultimatum of either being cut ($11.5 million in cap savings) or taking a pay cut. Janoris Jenkins has been getting torched by opposing receivers this year, allowing nearly 70 percent of passes to be completed for 692 yards and a league-high seven touchdowns. Despite the poor season, he still has some trade value, so the Giants could look to ship him off for a late-round draft pick. Linebacker Alec Ogletree’s play has improved in recent weeks, but New York may still opt to move on from him and gain $6.5 million in cap space. Jonathan Stewart was General Manager David Gettleman’s first signing and it looked like a terrible one as he was nothing but a plodder in limited action for the Giants before landing on injured reserve. Releasing him would give the Giants $2.53 million in cap space.
New York Jets
Cap space: $106.61 million
The Jets have a lot of cap space to work with as they build around Sam Darnold, so there aren’t many names on the chopping block. Left tackle Kelvin Beachum has struggled for several seasons now and the Jets are better off releasing him and getting $8 million in salary cap relief. Neither guard Spencer Long or Brian Winters are inspiring, but it is hard to imagine the Jets release 60 percent of their starting offensive lineman unless they find a replacement, but both Long and Winters offer $6.5 million in cap relief apiece.
Cap space: $81.15 million
Jon Gruden seems intent on blowing up this roster and as evidenced by the trades of Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack, nobody is safe, including quarterback Derek Carr. Carr and Gruden have butted heads on multiple occasions this year and with the Raiders in position to select Justin Herbert, Gruden has $15 million reasons why he may decide not to bring back Carr. Donald Penn turns 36 this April and his production fell off of a cliff in 2018 between losing his starting spot at left tackle to a struggling Kolton Miller before getting placed on injured reserve in October. Releasing Penn saves $5.48 million in cap space. Aside from a blow up game in Week 3, wide receiver Jordy Nelson has had a nondescript season in his first year post Aaron Rodgers and carries a non-guaranteed salary of $7.2 million in 2018.
Cap space: -$8.96 million
Like Jacksonville, the Eagles are another team who has underperformed and is over the cap. They do get immediate relief, however, as Nick Foles has a clause in his contract that voids his deal, giving Philadelphia $20.6 million in cap space immediately. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan found himself without a role in the Eagles deep defensive line, so Philadelphia could move on from him and gain $7 million in cap space. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor finally reached his potential in 2017, but fell back to earth in 2018. Golden Tate is entering free agency, but the Eagles may still move on from Agholor’s $9.39 million cap figure.
Cap space: $28.65 million
Joe Haden hasn’t been bad for the Steelers, but he isn’t worth his $11.92 million cap number and Pittsburgh can gain a much-needed $10 million in cap space by cutting him. Pittsburgh doesn’t have many other cut candidates, however, as most of their players are on fair deals, but it is worth nothing that there may be retirement rumors involving Ben Roethlisberger again.
San Francisco 49ers
Cap space: $65.79
Fullback Kyle Juszczyk is one of the best in the NFL at his position, but fullback is devalued in today’s NFL and there is no player at that position worth $5.95 million. Releasing him will give the 49ers $3.45 million in cap space. A change of scenery didn’t do much for Cassius Marsh who has played poorly in limited action for the 49ers and they can gain $4.2 million in cap space by releasing him. Pierre Garcon turns 33 and with the emergence of Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin, he is expendable. San Francisco would add $1.08 million in cap space by releasing him.
Cap space: $63.63 million
Injuries have hampered Doug Baldwin’s 2018 campaign, but now that he is 30 and functions mostly as a slot receiver, the Seahawks may be better off releasing him and gaining $8.86 million in cap space. Safety Kam Chancellor retired last offseason, but had spent this year on the Seahawks physically unable to perform list. Once they move him to the reserve/retired list, they will gain $13 million in cap space. Right tackle German Ifedi has been a bust of a first round pick and Seattle could move on from him and gain $1.58 million in cap space.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap space: $18.35 million
DeSean Jackson had some vintage games to start the season, but Chris Godwin and Adam Hunphries have surpassed him on the depth chart and he has become disgruntled in recent weeks. With Tampa Bay getting $10 million in cap relief by releasing him, it’s hard to imagine he returns in 2019. Before landing on injured reserve, O.J. Howard had a breakout sophomore campaign and will make it hard to Tampa Bay to justify paying a non-guaranteed $7 million to back up Cameron Brate. Defensive lineman Vinny Curry has become expendable and the Buccaneers may opt to cut him for $8 million in cap relief.
Cap space: $45.77 million
The Titans entered the year with one of the best secondaries on paper, but once the games were played, it has become obvious this group just isn’t meshing. Logan Ryan will give the Titans an additional $10 million in cap space if released while safety Jonathan Cyprien, who has missed all of 2018, can be cut for $5.25 million in cap relief. Tight end Delanie Walker will be an interesting name to watch. He is a fan favorite, but he turns 35 in August and is coming off of a broken ankle. Jonnu Smith, who was drafted to be his heir, has failed to step up in Walker’s absence, but the Titans can get $3.46 million in cap relief by releasing him.
Cap space: $19.32 million
With Alex Smith likely heading to the physically unable to perform list, the Redskins will get $20.4 million in cap relief. Cornerback Josh Norman had a spectacular 2015 season in Carolina, but hasn’t been the same player in Washington and the Redskins may look to release him for $8.5 million in cap relief. Tight end Jordan Reed continues to struggle to stay healthy, which may let Washington move on from him for $6.12 million in extra cap space.