Here we go again, another round of misery in the National Football League as we head deeper into the offseason. We are talking about more potential salary cap roster casualties, players with high cap numbers on teams that simply cannot afford them anymore. Not all players are out of their prime or not worth the money, some teams just cannot hold onto the financial burden any longer. Let’s take a look at some more names heading for a potential new home this offseason.
Darrelle Revis Cornerback Tampa Bay Bucs
Now this is a real interesting storyline. The top guy in the secondary and Tampa’s prized possession a few years ago is now hearing his name thrown out in potential trade discussion with a new coaching and front office regime in the bay area. Last year he didn’t play his typical style of ball after coming back from a knee injury and wasn’t quite as dominant as usual but still played at a high level. The Tampa 2 defensive scheme that coach Lovie Smith will naturally employ is not a fit for Revis’ natural man cover skills, which may make him expendable for guys who will fit the scheme.
Verdict: Toss Up. It will really depend on how much a team is willing to throw at the Bucs for Revis’ services and loaded contract. With little of it guaranteed a team could easily throw a stockpile of picks for his ability to match up with number ones. I could see this being a storyline that plays out for months leading up to the draft. Follow this one closely.
Julius Peppers Defensive End Chicago Bears
Here is another great player of this generation on the chopping block due to age, lack of production, and health issues. Peppers has had a stellar career and had a very impressive first three seasons with Chi-town but last year he was a shell of his former self until a late season resurgence. He struggled to consistently rush the passer for the first 75% of the regular season. While he managed to finish with some solid numbers (7 sacks), you could tell his motor was starting to wind down, and with such a high cap number, the Bears may need to consider moving on and spending the money on improving the whole defense.
Verdict: Go. As hard as it is for me to say that about one of my favorite players in the league, Peppers is winding down and will not be an every down player soon and will not be a force throughout the entire season. At that cap number the Bears can’t make many moves, and they need to fill the defense in top to bottom with younger fresher faces. Unless he is willing to restructure and take a hit in playing time, the former Tar Heel could be on the outs in Chicago.
Cortland Finnegan Cornerback St. Louis Rams
We have seen a flurry of cornerbacks on these lists, and Cortland is no exception. He was given a large value contract after leaving the Tennessee Titans, and has never really been the same player since. Cortland is a Richard Sherman type of player who is a trash talking physical corner who lives on the ball. However the last two seasons he has failed to be even the best corner on his team. Coach Jeff Fisher was his coach with the Titans, and is hoping to try and pry the max potential out of Cortland again. There have been reports that they would like to keep him, but hopefully reduce his cap number someway. It is hard to tell if Cortland’s pride will get in the way of this or if he will take the comfort and solid coaching staff to hopefully revitalize his career.
Verdict: Stay. (Only with pay cut). This team is in transition and the arrow is pointing the right direction. With Sam Bradford commanding so much cap space and a team that still needs to add pieces up and down the roster, Finnegan must restructure his contract if he hopes to keep playing with the Rams. I believe that with Coach Fisher, that will happen. Only time will tell what the Rams will do and with a corner deep draft they could certainly move on from the pricey veteran.
Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez Wide Receiver and Quarterback New York Jets
The Jets had arguably the worst offense in all of football last year. Sanchez was injured all season long and if you didn’t notice Holmes on the field last year don’t feel bad, he may as well not have been there. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith was an enigma last year looking stunning at times and downright awful in others but it’s abundantly clear that the Jets are moving on from Sanchez and his 8 million dollar final year. Holmes has a heavy cap number as well, and his production for the Jets can be labeled as nearly nonexistent. That kind of money for a player who never showed up as your number one guy let alone any number one guy is just ludicrous and the Jets have way too many pressing needs to tie up over 15 million in aging players with little to no real production.
Verdict: GO! Emphatically. These two will do nothing more for this franchise or Rex Ryan’s job security. Move on and try and try and piece in some better, younger, healthier offensive talent. They wouldn’t yield much if anything via trade so send these two straight to free agency. Anyone the Jets bring in over these two should be improvements.
Chris Clemons Defensive End Seattle Seahawks
A vital member of Seattle’s fierce defense two years ago, Clemons suffered a knee injury in the postseason to the Washington Redskins and while he did come back pretty strong another name took his place. Michael Bennett played a phenomenal season and slated himself for a big payday showing just how valuable he is to the Seattle front four. With Bennett being able to be an every down pass rusher with no previous health issues, Clemons’ days appeared to be numbered in Seattle. They shouldn’t have a need for two high priced guys at the same position, and any smart franchise goes with the healthier more productive option.
Verdict: Go. Unfortunately for Clemons, though he has proved he is still a formidable pass rushing specialist, he just isn’t worth that high cap number as a rotational player. The Hawks have numerous players in the secondary to pay up soon and they will not be able to afford those guys and 8 million dollar backup defensive end.
Steve Smith Wide Receiver Carolina Panthers
One of the more surprising stories to pop up this offseason is the future of Smith on Carolina. He is due 7 million dollars in 2014 and is also turning thirty five this spring. The Panthers made huge progression last season under quarterback Cam Newton and head coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera. They did this with a weaker receiving core then most teams in the NFL and Smith’s ability as a number one is quickly diminishing. Unless he agrees to a significant pay cut he may be released which has come as news to him after Panthers GM Dave Gettleman failed to commit to the Panthers all time leading receiver going forward. You can safely assume there will be some kind of resolution to this quite soon as the two sides are expected to have a sit down.
Verdict: Go. Sadly for Smith the business side of the NFL is growing more and more with teams chasing consistency and the ever elusive Super Bowl ring. The Panthers are looking to reload with young fresh talent to keep this team competitive for years to come, and it seems that Smith just no longer fits those plans.
Well there you have it folks, another round up of salary cap causalities. You may see a few of these names moved or cut in the coming hours or days, as well as a number of other names across the league. With free agency inching ever closer, NFL teams are gearing up for spending sprees galore, while many players are in search of a new home. Keep your eyes peeled for more on free agency.