It is that time of year again in the National Football League. The combine is in town, giving teams tons of young bloods to look at and measure up to their perspective franchises. Meanwhile the front offices have to look at the ugly reality behind the scenes, it’s time to clear some cap space. We see it every year, teams that overspend on big name free agents often have to purge their big contracts. Here is a rundown of a few names you should expect to see on the chopping block in the coming weeks.
Chris Johnson Runningback Tennessee Titans
This one is a bit of a tough pill to swallow. Chris Johnson can be an incredible running back and an explosive talent. However he is really a one dimensional speed back who needs a solid compliment back to go with him. That’s not something that Johnson wants to work with though as we have heard him say already multiple times. Given his lack of production and poor attitude towards the previous coaching staff it’s a realistic possibility to see Johnson cut or perhaps traded away to give Tennessee a fresh face behind the quarterback and score some assets in return. It’s entirely possible that they could retain him as well considering he can still be a top running back.
Verdict: Go. (Cut or Trade) Chris Johnson has been overly vocal about his displeasure of his use on the Titans and coach Ken Wisenhunt doesn’t seem like a guy to tolerate those who question his game plans. I think the Titans would be better off trying to find any kind of return for their former star back.
Antonio Cromartie Cornerback New York Jets
Here you have a bit of an easier situation. Antonio Cromartie is the team’s top corner and still arguably one of their better defenders but his cap number is far too inflated and the Jets have plenty of young talent and draft picks to fill the void of an aging corner whose mouth runs a little faster than his legs these days. Though he is a Rex Ryan kind of player, Rex knows he needs to win and keeping an expensive aging corner isn’t the way to do that.
Verdict: Go. (Cut). I don’t see a team giving up anything worthwhile for Cromartie and the Jets could really use the money to improve the team as a whole. I see the Jets moving on in this one.
LaMarr Woodley Linebacker Pittsburgh Steelers
This one is complicated. Woodley has struggled to stay healthy the last few seasons and his cap number only inflates year after year and the Steelers really need the money to spread around an aging defense and young offense. However the Rooney family and the Steeler organization has a track record of keeping many of their cornerstone players or guys seen as true Steelers, especially on the defensive side of the ball. You can say well they let go of James Harrison but that is not quite the same situation as Woodley. It is entirely possible the Steelers could move on with their recently drafted fresh faces at linebacker such as Jarvis Jones but I certainly expect some talks to occur between these two parties.
Verdict: Stay. I think that the Steelers can convince Woodley to restructure his deal and stay and mentor this young linebacker group while still being sold on Super Bowl potential. In the end I just can’t see them letting go of one of their better defensive players.
Champ Bailey Cornerback Denver Broncos
A similar situation to Lamar Woodley, Champ Bailey has been the face of this Bronco defense for over a decade. His body is starting to turn on him and frankly he is not worth the near ten million against the salary cap that he is projected to make next season. I think Denver, who is bit cash strapped, knows this and I believe that Champ knows this. I also believe both parties know that their best chance for a championship is to stay together, for a bargain.
Verdict: Stay. I expect an extension in the two year range that spread his money out, guaranteeing more of it but cutting his cap number. Can you imagine the Champ in another uniform? Me either.
DeMarcus Ware Linebacker Dallas Cowboys
There has been talk of DeMarcus being on the chopping block due to his insane cap number and large drop in health and production last season. Ware has come out and said he would not take a pay cut to stay on the team. Dallas is already over the salary cap, and has an abundance of needs for depth and needs some money to make moves. There are other players that are more likely to be moved or released such as Miles Austin. Jerry Jones loves his Cowboys that he has handpicked and Ware is one of them, and one of the best he has ever had. It would be awfully difficult to watch him making plays somewhere else.
Verdict: Stay. This is another situation where I can see an extension that guarantees a good amount of amount but spread out two to three seasons that deflates his incredibly large cap number. We all know Jerry Jones isn’t sane enough to make football moves for the future. Every year is a Super Bowl year for him. HA!
A lot of big names on the chopping block this offseason. It will be interesting to see what guys are cut and what guys swallow their pride.
That it for list one readers, look for list two soon!