In our last segment we highlighted the Offensive Players Rumored to be Cut. We’ll switch to the other side of the ball in this piece, breaking down defensive players who have been rumored to be on the chop block with their respective teams.
|Player||Team||Cost to Cut||Cap Savings|
Julius Peppers falls victim to a horrible Bears defense in 2013, combined with an obsurd $18.18M cap figure for 2014 (rising to $20.7M in 2015). There’s clearly no way Chicago will keep him around with those numbers. At 33 years old, a restructure/extension is possible – but somewhat unlikely. Should the Bears designate Peppers a June 1st release, they can clear $10.2 million from the 2014 cap – splitting the dead money between 2014/15 ($4.183M/$4.183M).
Saints OLB Will Smith spent his 10th season in the league on the reserve/injured list, following a restructure and a paycut in 2012/2013 respectively. The result is a 2014 cap figure close to $14 million, second only to Drew Brees. Combine this with a 61/62 ranking among all DE/OLBs in 2012 (according to Pro Football Focus), and Smith’s tenure in New Orleans is most likely run its course.
Packers ILB A.J. Hawk took a step forward in 2012, after a miserable 2011, but failed to capitalize in 2013 – taking two steps backward. With $5.1 million cap figures in both 2014 and 2015, it’s not likely that Hawk sees out the end of this contract in Green Bay. If the Packers do decide to give him another shot in 2014, releasing him after the fact will save Green Bay $3.5 million from their 2015 cap.
Champ Bailey’s made a lot of defenses better in his day, but his inability to stay healthy or productive for the Broncos in 2013 might mean the end of the road for the 15 year NFL veteran. His $10 million cap figure for 2014 ranks 8th among all cornerbacks, and with no dead money to go with, would give Denver a lot of space to play with this offseason.
CB Asante Samuel had an “average” 2013 with the Falcons, very similar to his 2012 in Atlanta. At 32 years old, and with very little saved by removing him, it’s plausible that the Falcons bring him back for the final year of his contract – though a $6 million cap figure is somewhat high for his production.
Jets CB Antonio Cromartie finished his first season post-Revis near the bottom of the PFF cornerback rankings (103/110). He restructured $8.46 million of his 2013 salary via pay cut or by pushing dollars into 2014. And therein lies the current problem. Cromartie’s 2014 cap figure currently stands at $14.98 million, 2nd only to Revis ($16 million) among all NFL cornerbacks and 1st among all New York Jets. While the Jets do have space to work with this offseason, it’s highly unlikely Cromartie will be asked back at this price-tag.