Here, theScore examines every NFC roster to determine one player from each team who should be a cap casualty or traded for performance-related reasons this offseason. The list doesn’t include pending free agents.
AFC I NFC
Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Peterson
Peterson insists he’d prefer to finish his career in Arizona, but the Cardinals may be thinking long term. General manager Steve Keim and head coach Kliff Kingsbury could look to acquire draft capital for the veteran and save $12.5 million against the cap in the process. Peterson, who turns 30 this summer, can still play at a high level, but that likely won’t last long. Trading the eight-time Pro Bowler to a contender this offseason is in Arizona’s best interest.
Atlanta Falcons – Devonta Freeman
Dan Quinn and the Falcons must revitalize their running game if they hope to compete in the NFC South. That begins by finding an upgrade over Freeman, who averaged 3.8 yards per attempt last season while scoring just two total touchdowns. The 27-year-old’s game appears to have taken a step back after battling numerous injuries over the last two years, and it won’t be difficult for Atlanta to find a cheaper replacement in 2020.
Carolina Panthers – Dontari Poe
The Panthers signed Poe to a three-year, $27-million contract in 2018, leaving the monstrous defender as a potential cap casualty. Carolina is bringing in a new staff, led by Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow, and it’s unclear whether the former first-round pick fits Rhule and Snow’s scheme. Poe is set to count for over $13 million against the cap this campaign, and his play no longer warrants such a high salary. The Panthers would save $9.8 million by cutting him.
Chicago Bears – Prince Amukamara
Chicago must find a way to create cap space in order to improve its roster. Amukamara is likely to be one of those sacrifices. The soon-to-be 31-year-old isn’t a liability by any means, but the Bears would save $9 million should they choose to release him. Chicago has younger, cheaper options in the secondary and should prioritize upgrading its scoring attack to compete in a tough NFC North.
Dallas Cowboys – Tyrone Crawford
Once among the Cowboys’ most consistent defenders, Crawford could be searching for a new home in 2020. The veteran defensive tackle played in just four games last year, landing on injured reserve in October with a hip injury. Add in the fact that Dallas can save $8 million by cutting him, and Crawford appears unlikely to play out the final year of his current contract. The Cowboys have younger options at the position, anyway.
Detroit Lions – Jarrad Davis
Detroit’s first-round pick in 2017, Davis has yet to meet expectations despite being given plenty of opportunities to do so. Most of the Lions’ highest-paid players are key veterans in starting spots, so the young linebacker may be a piece on the move. After a rocky start in the NFL, a trade to a more stable franchise could be just what the doctor ordered for Davis to revitalize his career. Detroit drafted his replacement last year in Jahlani Tavai, so Davis’ days as a starter with the team are numbered either way.
Green Bay Packers – Jimmy Graham
Graham hinted at retirement following Green Bay’s playoff elimination, but he’s a no-brainer cap casualty should he continue his career. The tight end’s level of play has declined at a rapid rate in recent years, and he’s scheduled to count for $11.67 million against the cap in 2020. With potential savings of $8 million, Graham’s tenure with the Packers will likely end with 93 catches, 1,083 yards, and five touchdowns over two seasons.
Los Angeles Rams – Clay Matthews
With little cap room to breathe for the upcoming campaign, the Rams and general manager Les Snead must get creative with their roster. The first step could be signing Jalen Ramsey to a new deal, and the next would be releasing expensive veterans. Matthews is owed $5.75 million should he make it to Week 1, so he’ll be a name to monitor this offseason. The veteran pass-rusher isn’t what he once was, as he notched just one sack over his final seven games in 2019.
Minnesota Vikings – Xavier Rhodes
Minnesota currently sits over the cap limit ahead of free agency, putting a number of veterans in danger of being released. Cutting Linval Joseph would save the team $10.55 million, but the bigger name here is Rhodes. A first-team All-Pro selection just two seasons ago, the cornerback’s play has declined drastically since. Opposing quarterbacks earned a 127.8 passer rating a season ago when targeting Rhodes, and the defender allowed four touchdowns in coverage while struggling to get his hands on pass attempts. The Vikings have a plethora of young options at the position and would collect $8.1 million if they let Rhodes go. This move is as close to a lock as possible.
New Orleans Saints – Kiko Alonso
The Saints currently own the sixth-least cap space in the league, so a handful of veterans could be on their way out of New Orleans in 2020. The recently acquired Janoris Jenkins is one option, but it’s more difficult to see Alonso making it on the roster next season. Acquired days before the 2019 campaign, the linebacker wasn’t an every-down player on the Saints’ defense, and he’s battled injuries and inconsistencies in recent years. New Orleans would save $7.85 million by cutting Alonso, who tore his ACL in the team’s wild-card loss.
New York Giants – Alec Ogletree
Nate Solder is an equally likely cut candidate, but the Giants would inherit $13 million in dead money if they release their starting left tackle. Ogletree is New York’s third-highest paid player, which nowhere near matches his level of play. The former first-round linebacker has struggled in coverage of late while missing too many tackles. By cutting Ogletree, the Giants would save $8.25 million. The team’s decision on which players to cut this offseason could ultimately impact which prospect it targets No. 4 overall in the 2020 draft.
Philadelphia Eagles – Sidney Jones
Philadelphia fields a number of young options in its secondary, and general manager Howie Roseman could opt to trade one that hasn’t lived up to expectations – there are many – to acquire other assets. Jones is the most likely to yield a return, as he was a highly regarded draft prospect who dealt with a torn Achilles early in his career. A handful of teams may be interested in the cornerback as a reclamation project, and his on-field performance with the Eagles certainly didn’t warrant significant playing time.
San Francisco 49ers – Jerick McKinnon
It’s fascinating to think McKinnon, who’s San Francisco’s highest-paid running back, might be the 49ers’ fourth- or fifth-most effective player at the position. The former Minnesota Viking signed a four-year, $30-million contract with San Francisco in 2018 and has yet to suit up for a regular-season game with the club. Following a serious knee injury that included multiple setbacks, it’s fair to wonder if McKinnon will ever return to full strength. With a potential $4.5 million in cap savings and many mouths to feed in the 49ers’ backfield, McKinnon’s tenure in San Francisco will likely end before it had a chance to start.
Seattle Seahawks – Justin Britt
Britt, the Seahawks’ starting center, tore his ACL in October and may not be fully healthy ahead of the 2020 season opener. The veteran lineman is owed $11.67 million if he sticks on the roster and his production has declined since signing an extension in 2017. Seattle should draft younger options or spend the money saved on a free-agent replacement.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – O.J. Howard
Howard should be one of the top trade candidates when the new league year begins. After a promising first two NFL seasons, Howard surprisingly took a step back under head coach Bruce Arians and often appeared disinterested. Without a major role in the Bucs’ offense, plenty of teams would certainly explore a trade for the 25-year-old. If Arians isn’t going to use Howard, he might as well try to acquire something in exchange for the tight end.
Washington Redskins – Josh Norman
Norman’s release is coming, it’s just a matter of when. Despite his relationship with new head coach Ron Rivera, Washington would save $12.5 million against the cap by cutting the veteran. Norman was once among the league’s premier cover corners, but he was benched at times in 2019 and recently turned 32. The Redskins are getting younger, and the feisty defender won’t factor into their long-term plans.
Contract stats courtesy: Spotrac
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