6 potential cap casualties

John Breitenbach identifies six players who will likely be cut by their teams this offseason.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

6 potential cap casualties

For all but two NFL teams, the offseason has arrived in full force. Many must make big decisions regarding personnel, much of which is financially-motivated.

After taking a look at some players worthy of the franchise tag, here are six players owed inflated sums in 2016—and could very well be cut by their teams.

(Editor’s note: All contract details via overthecap.com, savings are dependent on pre-June 1 release.)

Injury victims

Ryan Clady, OT, DEN

Cap number: $10.1 million

Dead money: $1.2 million

Savings: $8.9 million

Ryan Clady is an undoubtedly talented left tackle, but simply can’t stay on the field. He was scheduled to be a key component of the Broncos’ offensive line in 2015 before a torn ACL put an end to his season before it had even started. It’s a familiar story for Clady, who also missed the vast majority of the 2013 season. He was rightly rewarded with a big contract following an impressive 2012 year, where he graded as our third-overall tackle and allowed just 22 combined pressures, but has never been the same player since. Even when he was able to suit up two seasons ago, he recorded a negative grade and finished down at 46th overall amongst OTs.

Jerod Mayo, LB, NE

Cap number: $11.4 million

Dead money: $4.4 million

Savings: $7 million

For the third year in four, Jerod Mayo finished the year on injured reserve. Although he was able to suit up for the majority of this season, he was below both Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower in the pecking order. Mayo’s performances have fallen some way since 2012, much like Clady. He finished the year as our 58th overall LB, missing eight of 50 attempted tackles, culminating in a 43.0 run defense grade. In contrast, Mayo missed just five tackles out of 136 three seasons ago, and finished as our fourth-overall LB. Another team will likely give him a shot to recapture that form—it just may not be the cash-strapped Patriots.

Past their prime

Mario Williams, DE, BUF

Cap numbers: $19.9 million

Dead money: $7 million

Savings: $12.9 million

Mario Williams has been an outstanding pass rusher since he was drafted with the first overall pick in 2006. His ninth season was a different story. Williams finished this year with the worst pass rush grade (42.5) amongst edge defenders. He recorded only 36 combined pressures from 485 snaps, looking well short of his best. Williams graded positively as a pass rusher just once all season. It’s possible he just had a down year adjusting to Rex Ryan’s scheme, but with the Bills’ spending already scheduled to exceed the cap, he may not get an opportunity to prove that was the case. Williams is likely to catch on somewhere, but Buffalo is unlikely to look past the $13 million cap saving.

Chris Long, DE, LA

Cap number: $14.3 million

Dead money: $2.5 million

Savings: $11.8 million

At one stage of Long’s career, he was amongst the best pass rushers in the nation. The past two seasons have been disrupted by injury and inconsistency. He averaged 21 knockdowns between 2010 and 2013, but has just seven combined in 2014 and 2015. Long fell to 98th overall in our edge defender rankings, and finished with a measly 49.6 pass rush grade. Considering how well scheduled free agent William Hayes is playing for the Rams, it would be a surprise if Long settles into a new home in the hills of Los Angeles. Those $12 million could be better spent on retaining a younger, more productive defensive end.


Mike Wallace, WR, MIN

Cap number: $11.5 million

Dead money: $0

Savings: $11.5 million

The Vikings can cut Wallace without suffering any financial penalty this offseason. It’s amazing how far his stock has fallen. Wallace ended the year with just 39 catches for 473 yards, two TDs, and four drops, despite leading the Vikings in snaps amongst WRs. He ended the year 95th overall at the position with a receiving grade of just 57.3. Not since he was a Pittsburgh Steeler has Wallace looked like a genuine No. 1 threat on the perimeter, yet he’s scheduled to get paid like the best in the business. Considering the Vikings’ need for playmakers, the fact they’ll likely move on is testament to Wallace’s recent struggles.

Jordan Cameron, TE, MIA

Cap number: $9.5 million

Dead money: $2 million

Savings: $7.5 million

Cameron was merely a solid option for the Browns in his four years in Cleveland, which made the two-year, $15 million contract given to him by Miami something of a shock. The vast majority of the $12.5 million guaranteed was paid out in year one, however, meaning the Dolphins can move on if they so wish. Considering Cameron caught just 35 passes for 386 yards, three TDs, and three drops in 2015, Miami will certainly evaluate his spot on the roster. Cameron looks in particular jeopardy because the Dolphins’ spending is expected to exceed the 2016 cap. How much is a tight end, who finished 43rd overall at his position and doesn’t block, really worth? If the Dolphins conclude it’s less than the $7.5 million, they could save by cutting him.

| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • corners

    “. Considering Cameron caught just 35 passes for 386 yards, three TDs, and three drops in 2015″

    I assure you, he had more than 3 drops. I watched every game. It seemed to be a trend with him.Not every pass was perfect, but many hit his hands just fine.

    We paid him because we get left out in the cold on the pirating of Clay TE, to the Bills.

    • Tyler Ferree

      Fact check, Miami signed Cameron BEFORE the Bills made that offer to Clay (which of course leaves one to wonder why the bills gave him 10.5 a year when his value was closer to 6-7 and the Dolphins weren’t a threat to match).

      • gllmiaspr

        Agreed 100%. And with 100% hindsight we can wonder why the Dolphins did not spend the $1 million extra on a regular franchise tag for Clay who seemed a similar player and had chemistry with Tannehill. To be fair I thought Cameron would be a lot better and it is not all his fault. None of the new Dolphins WR did as well as expected in the beginning of the year.

      • Cant FixStupid

        But the Bills didn’t give Clay 10.5 per year, they gave him 7.6 per. 5 years, 38 mil, 24.5 guaranteed with a 10 mil signing bonus. It’s actually not a bad contract at all. He has one year with a cap hit of 13.5 mil, this year, last year was 5 mil and the last 3 years are 6.5 mil. The Dolphins should have kept Charles Clay around.

  • Ron Morisseau

    Throw Brent Grimes(9.5 million cap hit) and Cameron Wake(9.8 million cap hit),Quinton Coples (7.75 million ch),Greg Jennings(5.5 million ch),Earl Mitchell(3.5 million ch),Dion Jordan (6.2 million ch),Koa Misi(4.9 million cap hit),Jordan Cameron (9.5 million cap hit), restructure Suh and you’ll have well over $50 million available in cap savings

  • Rodrigo

    Clady said he will get a pay cut to stay with the team.
    Good news for Osweiler.

  • crosseyedlemon

    It might be time for Mike Wallace to fill out a job application with CBS for a field reporter position.