Which NFLers are Getting Cut? Odds on 2017’s Cap Casualties

The NFL offseason has already gotten itself out to a quick, and slightly shocking, start. Rashad Jennings, Victor Cruz, Ryan Clady, Branden Albert, Mario Williams, and a handful more players have already been released by their respective teams. The cuts are not going to stop there, though.

As multiple teams scurry to resolve their salary cap issues, the result is going to be some household names losing their jobs. I have compiled a list of ten players who I believe will either be asked to take a major decrease in wage, or shown the door. For each player, I have included the odds of them being cut and the odds of where they will end up, if they are let go.


Tony Romo, Cowboys

Cap space created: $5.1 million

Jerry Jones has a major cap issue on his hands entering the offseason. The Cowboys are more than $10 million over the cap and will need to make some big moves to create some space. Obviously, the money saved by cutting Romo will help, but it won’t be enough.

Cutting the 36-year-old pivot still makes sense. Dak Prescott had a remarkable rookie season, leading the ‘Boys to an NFC-best 13-3 record, and Romo is just too injury-prone. The four-time Pro Bowler would count as $24.7 million against the cap in 2017. Due to the remaining guaranteed money on his deal, a trade or release would result in $19.6 million in dead cap. If Dallas waits until after June 1st, only $12.7 million would count against the 2017 cap, while the rest would affect them in 2018.

I don’t envision Romo wanting to take a major pay-cut to sit on the bench, especially when he could go start elsewhere and compete for a championship.

Odds to be cut: 1/9

Odds on new team, if cut:

New York Jets: 2/1
Buffalo Bills: 4/1
Denver Broncos: 4/1
Chicago Bears: 7/1
Retires: 19/1
FIELD: 9/1

Jay Cutler, Bears

Jay Cutler dropping back to pass
By Mike Morbeck (Wikimedia Commons)

Cap space created: $14 million

Referring to this as a cap-casualty may be a bit of a stretch, considering the Bears currently have nearly $60 million in cap space. How about a casualty of his cap number? That may even be a little misleading, since Cutler is only scheduled to count as $16 million against the cap. Cutler just isn’t worth it and the Bears have an easy out now.

With a rebuild on the horizon, it doesn’t make any sense to bring Cutler back for his ninth-season with the Bears. Chicago has seen enough of the Santa Claus native. The team needs to know what their other options can do under center. And when I say “other options,” I am referring to someone who isn’t currently on the roster, as Cutler is the only QB the Bears have under contract.

Odds to be cut: 1/7

Odds on new team, if cut:

Cleveland Browns: 4/1
Buffalo Bills: 9/2
New York Jets: 7/1
San Francisco 49ers: 7/1
Houston Texans: 8/1
FIELD: 3/1

Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

Cap space created: $14.43 million

I won’t beat around the bush like I did with Cutler. Colin Kaepernick is a bad quarterback. There is not much guaranteed money left on his contract. Bad quarterbacks who lack guaranteed money on a premier contract get cut.

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch will want to find a couple players on the current, barren roster to build around, if at all possible; the rest of the slate will be wiped clean. There is a possibility that Shanahan may want to groom a rookie from the sideline, or he may even believe he can resurrect Kaepernick’s career. I doubt it, though.

If Kaep is cut, I don’t see many teams making the call to bring him in as a starter. A backup role is likely, if a team is willing to take on the distractions that come with.

Odds to be cut: 3/7

Odds on new team, if cut:

Cleveland Browns: 4/1
New York Jets: 4/1
Unsigned: 9/1
FIELD: 1/1

Tyrod Taylor, Bills

Cap space created: $13.06 million

The contract extension Tyrod Taylor signed with the Bills is a little complicated. The Bills would be on the hook for $30.75 million if Taylor is on the roster come March 11th. Most of that money wouldn’t count against the cap, though.

On March 11th, a $15.5 million option bonus, $12 million in 2017 salary, and $3.25 million in 2018 salary all become guaranteed. So, on top of the alleviated 2017, cap space, the Pegulas would save themselves a lot of money by declining the option and releasing the closest thing they have had to a functional quarterback since Drew Bledsoe.

Taylor’s benching for the final week of the regular season would suggest the team does not believe he is the long-term solution. But neither of the two quarterbacks who did play in Week 17, EJ Manuel and Cardale Jones, resembled even a short-term solution. This city is not ready for a rebuild; they want a winner. Bringing in Rick Dennison as the offensive coordinator is encouraging for Taylor’s future in Buffalo. The two spent a year together in Baltimore, so the relationship is there.

All things considered, I foresee the money making the decision.

Odds to be cut: 4/5

Odds on new team, if cut:

San Francisco 49ers: 4/1
Chicago Bears: 9/2
New York Jets: 9/2
Cleveland Browns: 5/1
Denver Broncos: 7/1
FIELD: 6/1

Running Backs

Jamaal Charles, Chiefs

Cap space created: $6.18 million

The Chiefs face a very difficult offseason. Both Eric Berry and Dontari Poe are set to become unrestricted free agents, and they only have a little over $2 million in cap space. One easy solution is to release Nick Foles and his $10.75 million cap hit, which comes with no dead cap. But that one move likely will not be enough.

Like Foles, Charles does not have any guaranteed money left on his deal, so releasing him would not result in any dead cap. The franchise’s all-time leading rusher has only been active in eight games over the last two seasons, and is coming off yet another knee surgery. Charles’ age is not on his side, either, as the four-time Pro Bowler just turned 30 years old in December.

It may not be an easy move, but releasing Charles is the right play.

Odds to be cut: 1/3

Odds on new team, if cut:

Detroit Lions: 4/1
Baltimore Ravens: 5/1
Indianapolis Colts: 5/1
New York Giants: 6/1
Minnesota Vikings: 9/1
FIELD: 7/2

Doug Martin, Buccaneers

Cap space created: $5.76 million

And the roller coaster that is Doug Martin’s career takes another major dip. The 27-year-old was suspended four games for PED-use ahead of Week 17 last season. This means Martin will not be eligible to suit-up until Week 4 of the 2017 regular season.

If the suspension isn’t enough to incite the Bucs to release the back, maybe his pitiful 2.9 yards per carry last season will be enough. The suspension voided the guaranteed money on Martin’s contract, so there would be no penalty for parting ways.

This would not be a move to clear space, as the Bucs have nearly $73 million to spend, but would rid Tampa Bay of a headache.

Odds to be cut: 3/7

Odds on new team, if cut:

Baltimore Ravens: 4/1
Oakland Raiders: 9/2
New York Giants: 6/1
FIELD: 8/7

Adrian Peterson, Vikings

Adrian Peterson on the field
By Mike Morbeck (Wikimedia Commons)

Cap space created: $18 million

No, that is not a typo. Adrian Peterson will count as a whopping $18 million against the cap in the final year of his contract. Fortunately for Minnesota, there would be no dead money for releasing the back, who will turn 32-years-old next month.

In three games last season, Peterson averaged 1.9 yards per carry and didn’t appear to have his burst anymore. The Vikings have a little over $23 million in cap space to work with, but that may not get them very far. Minnesota has a lot of work to do up front on their offensive line, which could get pricey, and they may even want a new running back to help out Sam Bradford.

Regardless of whether the team believes Peterson is done or not, this is an absurd cap hit for any player other than a quarterback or the most elite defenders. The ten-year vet will either have to renegotiate his contract or find a new team. But remember, the last time we doubted this guy, he responded by rushing for 2,097 yards.

I have to think AP is aware of Father Time looming over his shoulder and will take the necessary pay-cut to play for a contender. Perhaps a team that has already made some interesting moves this offseason.

Odds to be cut: 2/3

Odds on new team, if cut:

New York Giants: 4/1
Oakland Raiders: 5/1
Houston Texans: 6/1
Green Bay Packers: 6/1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 9/1
FIELD: 3/1

Other Positions

Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets

Cap space created: $9.33 million

The Jets have already declined to pick-up Ryan Clady’s option to clear nearly $10 million in cap space. But like the Cowboys and Chiefs, the Jets (who have only $4 million in cap space) need to make a couple big moves to ensure their head is above water.

This will likely be their next move, as Revis-Island has become a nice, cushy place for wide receivers to vacation. It was blatantly obvious last season that Revis had lost a step, or maybe five. The four-time First-Team All-Pro was consistently burnt deep and couldn’t make a tackle, either. The Jets have considered moving Revis to safety, but if he wants to remain on the roster, he will have to take a major pay-cut.

If New York is going to make a run at a veteran signal-caller, you may also see either Brandon Marshall or Sheldon Richardson get released. Those will come after Revis is dealt with, though.

Odds to be cut: 1/4

Odds on new team, if cut:

Green Bay Packers: 5/1
Tennessee Titans: 5/1
FIELD: 1/2

Jason Peters, LT, Eagles

Cap space created: $9.2 million

This is a tough one to sell. The Eagles are building around 2016 second-overall pick Carson Wentz and finding weapons for him is priority number one, but removing one of the best left tackles from the equation seems like a bad idea.

Philadelphia currently has a little over $11 million in projected cap space, which likely won’t be enough to bring in the help they need. However, there are other options. The Eagles have already approached Peters about a pay-cut, and they could do the same with Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham.

If all fails, Peters will be the first one on the chopping block.

Odds to be cut: 1/1

Odds on new team, if cut:

Minnesota Vikings: 3/1
New York Giants: 7/2
Denver Broncos: 5/1
Seattle Seahawks: 5/1
Carolina Panthers: 12/1
Cincinnati Bengals: 12/1
FIELD: 24/1

Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys

Cap space created: $7.4 million

Dallas fans, please look away. Jason Witten is not worth a $12.62 million cap hit. As mentioned earlier, the Cowboys are in a tough spot with the cap, and cutting Romo loose won’t give them the relief they need.

Witten has spent every down of his 14-year career in a Cowboys uniform, and his leadership is vital in a locker room full of children. The question is, how much is that worth, monetarily? I’m sure Jerry Jones will sit down and discuss that with his tight end, as neither side would want to see the fan-favorite play what could be his last season in a different jersey. (Aside: I don’t see Sean Lee getting the same treatment.)

Odds to be cut: 2/1

Odds on new team, if cut:

None/Retires: 5/3
New England Patriots: 4/1

Seattle Seahawks: 5/1
FIELD: 3/1

Photo Credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].


Perry is a regular contributor to MTS and a die-hard Broncos fan. Yes, he does remember the five Super Bowl losses, but likely remembers all your teams shortcomings, too. Consider yourself warned. Though his love for the Broncos may seem unconditional, Mr. Port never mixes his emotions with gambling.

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