The upcoming 2017 season begins on March 9 when free agency kicks into high gear, and there are some well known NFL players on the chopping block.
It sure feels like there are more big names on this list in 2017 than normal. Players like Tony Romo, Darrelle Revis, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles could all be wearing new uniforms next season, if not street clothes.
Teams have huge financial decisions to make regarding the following NFL players, who could all be moving on in some capacity this season.
Tony Romo, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
With Romo, if we’re being realistic it’s not if he’ll be cut by Dallas but when.
Due to count $24.7 million against the cap, the veteran quarterback’s contract isn’t going to be a huge sticking point, as it’s been reported he is willing to redo it if he’s traded. However, his value, which has taken a hit in recent years as injuries have mounted, could cause teams to simply wait until he’s a free agent rather than cough up any draft currency to land him.
The Cowboys really just need to decide when to release him, it that’s what happens. They cannot realistically make a move until March 9, when the new league year officially begins. To do so would “accelerate his cap hit,” as Ian Rapoport of NFL Media noted recently. The smart move is to designate him as a post-June 1 cut so they can spread out the cap hit.
The rumor mill is pumping out potential landing spots for Romo like crazy, with the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos being the most talked-about destinations for the quarterback. Though, one interesting scenario is the rumor that the Kansas City Chiefs could dump Alex Smith if they could land Romo.
It’s going to be fascinating to see where he lands, with the option of retirement always looming as a possibility as well.
Elvis Dumervil, outside linebacker, Baltimore Ravens
Once among the most-feared pass rushers in the NFL, Dumervil’s age appears to have caught up to him. CSN Baltimore’s Clifton Brown believes the Ravens will release him this offseason, and we do as well.
The veteran linebacker signed a five-year deal with the Ravens in 2013. He was a huge force for their defense that year and then again in 2014, racking up 26.5 sacks his first two seasons in Baltimore. Then in 2015 — despite starting all 16 games — his production took a precipitous tumble. He managed just six sacks that year, and it was the first sign of his decline.
Last season, Dumervil was hampered by a foot injury and made an appearance in just eight games, starting only three. His production was minimal as well, with just three sacks and 11 tackles.
By releasing him, the Ravens would save $6 million. For a team that is already cap strapped, this is just a logical move that seems inevitable.
Jay Cutler, quarterback, Chicago Bears
The Bears are desperately looking for a trade partner to rid themselves of Jay Cutler (more on that here).
It’s not happening.
The 33-year-old quarterback spent most of last season on IR with an injury to his shoulder. On that note, it could be argued that Cutler is actually injury prone, as he hasn’t played in a full season since 2009.
When healthy, Cutler still displays all the arm talent that has enamored scouts for years. But at the same time, he hasn’t evolved away from being the guy who cannot stop throwing interceptions. In 139 career games, Cutler has thrown 146 interceptions.
All this makes Cutler untradeable. And on top of it all, he’s due to count $16 million against the cap in 2017. The Bears can save $14 million in cap space by releasing him. He’ll be 34 when the 2017 season begins. Chicago is almost certainly going to release him this spring.
Darrelle Revis, cornerback, New York Jets
This is a sticky situation. Revis is being charged by the Pittsburgh Police with four felonies and faces some serious jail time if he’s convicted (more on all that here). Making things trickier for the Jets is the simple fact that Revis’ preliminary hearing was delayed and isn’t going to take place until March 15, which comes after the March 10 deadline that would give Revis $2 million.
The Jets are reportedly looking into whether Revis’ current situation would warrant voiding the $6 million he’s guaranteed this upcoming season. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the Jets are potentially considering suspending Revis for conduct detrimental to the team before the March 10 deadline in an effort to void the $6 million guaranteed.
Even if that doesn’t happen, however — and looking at this situation totally removed from his current legal problems — it makes sense for the Jets to cut Revis.
He’s due to make $15.3 million this year, and even before the incident in Pittsburgh the Jets were reportedly going to either cut him or ask him to take a pay cut. His tremendous coverage talents are clearly waning. Last year was the low point of his career that saw him even just flat-out giving up on plays (watch here).
At this point, he’s all but gone, barring a miraculous turn of events.
Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City Chiefs
Publicly, the Chiefs are staying positive about Charles, who missed most of the 2016 season due to complications regarding knee surgery he had in 2015 to repair his ACL. He ended up needing another knee surgery during the season.
General manager John Dorsey recently said, “He’s working like the dickens to get himself ready for ’17. We’ll see what happens in March. But right now I see him as a Chief.”
The key phrase there is, “We’ll see what happens in March.”
No doubt, Kansas City would love to have Charles return to action healthy and back to his explosive self. After all, he was one of the NFL’s premier running backs from 2009-14. And he did manage to bounce back nicely from a 2011 ACL injury that cost him 14 games.
But now at the age of 30, Charles has likely seen his best years come and go. The recurring issues with his knee last year were very troubling, and he’s due make over $6 million this upcoming season. Making matters worse for him, Spencer Ware did quite well in his stead last season and is locked up for a fraction of the price.
If the Chiefs release him, they’ll save that much in cap space, as none of it is guaranteed. Kansas City, unlike many teams around the league, has one of the tightest cap situations in the NFL. This all equates to Charles likely being shown the door.
DeAngelo Hall, defensive back, Washington Redskins
It’s been a good, long run for Hall, who definitely lived up to the expectations attached with a high draft pick. Originally the eighth player taken in the 2004 NFL Draft, he’s had a tremendous career, especially looking at his first 10 seasons in the league.
Unfortunately, the last three years have been unkind to the 13-year veteran, who has played in just 17 total games. Hall desperately wants to stay in Washington and keep playing, despite the past few frustrating seasons. He has said he is willing to restructure his contract, which is set to pay him over $5 million total this season.
“I’m not here trying to rob nobody and just keep making the same thing,” he said, per Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “If I show that I can be healthy and play 16 weeks, then maybe we incentivize it and do something like that, that’s something me and my agents kind of talked about because I kind of expressed the same concerns to him, like, man, I just feel like I’m stealing money. I signed that deal four years ago, and I’ve been hurt every year since then. I want to ultimately do what’s best for this team as well.”
A reworked deal could potentially be on the table. But it’s just as likely at this point that Hall will be released.
Washington needs to get younger and faster in the defensive secondary. Even after spending huge money to land Josh Norman last year, the defense ceded the 25th-most passing yards in the NFL. At this point, it might be less about money (Washington has plenty to spend) and more about a roster spot.
Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings
Like Charles, Peterson’s ability to stay healthy is a big issue the Vikings need to address.
He missed all but three games last year due to a knee injury, his second major knee injury as a pro. Though, he had a huge season in 2015, rushing for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns.
None of that really matters too much, because unlike Charles, Peterson’s contract is a monster. He’s due to haul home $18 million — $18 MILLION!
That’s quarterback money right there.
There is absolutely no way the Vikings are going to let that stand. And Peterson has already started talking about teams he’d like to play for next season (more on that here). A divorce is inevitable.
This isn’t to say Peterson can’t still put together a productive season. It just won’t be with the Vikings.
Jairus Byrd, safety, New Orleans Saints
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) February 17, 2017
The Saints laid out a red carpet to land Byrd a few years ago in free agency, paying him $26.3 million guaranteed on a six-year, $54 million contract. That season, he was viewed as a hot commodity as a ball-hawking safety who had nabbed 22 interceptions in five seasons with the Buffalo Bills to start his career.
The past three seasons in New Orleans, Byrd has missed 15 games due to injury and has managed just three interceptions. This past year, he did manage to pile up some big tackle numbers (82) and intercepted two passes. But he’s a 30-year-old safety whose best days are well behind him.
On top of that, Byrd is due to count $11.7 million against the cap. The Saints can save $3.7 million by cutting him, which is something they would be wise to do.
There is always the chance that the Saints approach Byrd about taking a pay cut to stay with the team. But this team needs an infusion of youth, and there are other safeties out there who could make a much bigger impact.
Byrd’s skills are receding and it’s time to build the defense anew with young talent.