Potential NFL Bubble Players & Cap Casualties

June 13th, 2014 by Michael Ginnitti

With a high percentage of draft picks now signed, and the free agent market finally slowing down to a jogger’s pace, we’ll take a look at each of the NFL rosters and locate a player who still may be considered a roster bubble or cap casualty over the next few months. In some cases we’ve outlined a player who may have more value via a trade than a release or an over-priced roster spot. These are merely projections based on financial value and roster availability. Feel free to leave your thoughts & comments below.

Arizona Cardinals – D. Stanton/R. Lindley (QB)

The selection of QB Logan Thomas in the 4th round of this year’s draft raised a few eyebrows across the league. While he’s a project, he’s most likely a 1-2 year roster guarantee. This leaves Drew Stanton, whom the Cardinals re-signed Drew Stanton to a 3 year $8.2 million contract last season to backup Carson Palmer, and Ryan Lindley a 6th round pick in 2012. Releasing Stanton clears $2M in 2014 cap, while Lindley would free up $570,090. It’s likely these two will be playing for a spot on the roster this August.

Atlanta Falcons -Cliff Matthews (DE)

Before the injury to Sean Weatherspoon, the likely candidate here would have been Osi Umenyiora. For now though we’ll shift gears to the other side of the defensive line, where DE Cliff Matthews stands to enter a contract year, with a cap figure of $656,750. He’s been pushed down the depth chart more each year, and the Falcons can recoup $645,000 in cap space by cutting him loose.

Baltimore Ravens – Jah Reid (G)

The Ravens’ offensive line has seen plenty of shifting since the end of the 2013 season, but Reid ( still doesn’t appear to have his place supplanted. The additions of Will Rackley & A.Q. Shipley at minimum contracts doesn’t bode well either. Baltimore can clear $645,000 in cap space with his release.

Buffalo Bills – C.J. Spiller (RB)

The Bills made plenty of noise by giving up their 2015 1st round draft pick to slide up and select offensive weapon Sammy Watkins this past May. In doing so they bring what many say is a “sure-thing playmaker” to their offense, something the Bills have been hoping to see consistently out of C.J. Spiller over the past 4 seasons. While releasing Spiller makes little to no sense, it’s certainly feasible for the Bills to be shopping him at this point. Spiller is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and holds a $5.916M cap figure (5th highest on the Bills). Trading him clears around $1.58 million in space, but can also bring back a significant draft pick – something the Bills are in need of next season.

Carolina Panthers – Mike McNeill (TE)

The Panthers are fairly deep in the tight end department, with returning weapon Greg Olsen, and the acquisition of Ed Dickson from Baltimore. Carolina actually gave McNeil a 2 year $1.52 million contract this offseason, but just $100,000 guaranteed. His contributions as a blocker and special teamer may force the Panthers to keep him around, but with a $710k cap hit, and $660k in savings, he’s certainly on the bubble.

Chicago Bears – Chris Conte (S)

Conte had a statistically awful 2013, rating out as the 82nd best safety according to PFF. The Bears selected Brock Vereen in the 4th round, a player they feel can contend for playing time in 2014, and also acquired Danny McCray from the Cowboys to add depth in the safety position. It’s Conte’s job to lose heading into training camp. The Bears can clear $1.451 million by cutting him loose.

Cincinnati Bengals – BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB)

Green-Ellis has been a steady weapon for the Bengals since 2012, but at 28 years old, and with plenty of RB depth now around him, it’s likely he’s on the bubble heading into training camp. BGE is entering the final year of his 3 year $9 million contract, and currently holds a $3 million cap figure for 2014. Cincinnati can clear $2.5 million in space by releasing him.

Cleveland Browns – Isaiah Trufant (CB)

Quite frankly, the Browns have done plenty of roster trimming already this offseason, and may not need to remove much of anything in terms of notable contracts going forward. Cleveland is roster heavy at both the WR and CB positions, and with the recent suspension of Josh Gordon, it’s not likely that the likes of Nate Burleson, Miles Austin, or Earl Bennett are let go anytime soon. The 1st round selection of CB Justin Gilbert should make some noise in Mike Pettine’s defense though, leaving one of the veterans as the odd man out. Releasing Trufant clears $645,000 in cap space ($150,000 guaranteed).

Dallas Cowboys – Jeremy Parnell (OT)

The Cowboys made the safe pick in this year’s 1st round, selecting tackle Zack Martin out of Notre Dame. In light of this, the Cowboys should be able to trim some of their higher offensive line contracts to begin to work their salary cap back to normalcy. Jeremy Parnell is set to count $1.83 million against their 2014 cap. By releasing him the Cowboys can clear a much needed $1.5 million immediately.

Denver Broncos – Joel Dreessen (TE)

The breakout year from Julius Thomas combined with a long-time chemistry between Peyton Manning and Jacob Tamme, mixed in with offseason surgery should spell disaster for Joel Dreessen in 2014. He caught just 7 passes in a reduced role in 2013, and stands to count $3.16 million against the Broncos cap in 2014. His release clears a much needed $2.5 million.

Detroit Lions – Mikel Leshoure (RB)

With 1,000+ yards and 9 TDs in 2012, Leshoure was on everyone’s breakout list. But he carried the ball just two times in 2013, and has all but been forgotten in Detroit with the expanded roles for Joique Bell and Reggie Bush. It’s possible Leshoure carries late-round trade value (similar to Bryce Brown), especially with just $843,297 in contract to be acquired.

Green Bay Packers – Jarrett Bush (CB)

Bush finds himself as the 6th CB on the depth chart heading into training camp, a bad spot to be in with Tramon Williams and Sam Shields leading the way. His $2.03 million cap figure for 2014 makes his situation even worse, and the Packers can clear $1.7 million by releasing him.

Houston Texans – T.J. Yates (QB)

Like the Browns, Houston did much of their trimming early – by releasing some of their bad values, and letting other players walk in free agency. It’s unlikely they’ll make another big splash in terms of cutting the roster, but we know for sure they won’t keep 4 QBs heading into 2014. Yates seems like the odd-man out per his setback year in 2013. He enters the final year of his contract with a $691,250 cap, and will clear $645k with his release.

Indianapolis Colts – LaVon Brazill (WR)

Brazill caught just 18 balls in 2014, and should be pushed further down the depth chart with the acquisition of Hakeem Nicks, and the 3rd round selection of Donte Moncrief. He’s entering year three of his rookie contract, and his release will clear $570k from the Colts cap.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcedes Lewis (TE)

While Lewis still shows flashes of strong play at times, he hasn’t produced even close to his cap figure for the past 3 seasons in Jacksonville. At $8.25 million, he enters 2014 with the Jaguars 2nd highest cap hit, and 2nd of any TE in the NFL. The Jaguars may not need the space, but releasing Lewis clears $6.85M.

Kansas City Chiefs – Joe McKnight (RB)

Kansas City cleared plenty of over-valued contracts earlier this year, and have yet to address extensions to key players (QB Alex Smith, LB Justin Houston). In light of this, the Chiefs aren’t expected to make many more drastic moves in the next few months. McKnight certainly seems like the odd man out in the running back rotation with Jamaal Charles, Kniles Davis, and newly drafted weapon De’Anthony Thomas in the mix. He carries a $645,000 contract with no dead money.

Miami Dolphins – Michael Egnew (TE)

He’s barely found the field in two full NFL seasons with the Dolpins, and has clearly been surpassed by breakout TE Charles Clay. His $742,239 2014 cap is nothing to gawk about, but the $595k in cleared space will come in handy should the Dolphins need to rebuild in 2015.

Minnesota Vikings – Christian Ponder (QB)

It makes $0 in financial sense to make this move (barring a trade), as all of Ponder’s $3,232,313 cap figure is guaranteed, but it seems likely that this is a move both parties will need to make this offseason. Ponder certainly has shown signs of compete in his 3 NFL seasons, but his time to prove his long-term value to the franchise has assumingly come and gone. He’ll have no trouble latching onto a team at a lower price-tag should this move be made.

New England Patriots – Patrick Chung (S)

Signed away from the Eagles this April, Chung comes back to Patriots as a depth fill to the secondary. With just $60,000 in guaranteed money (signing bonus), it’s not a financial strain to cut him loose should he struggle to supplant a backup role.

New Orleans Saints – Patrick Robinson (CB)

The former #32 overall pick in 2010, Robinson is projected to be a depth-fill to the Saints secondary in 2014. His $2.8M cap figure may be too rich for his role, especially with the Saints close to the cap-ceiling heading into July. He’ll clear $1.35M with his release.

New York Giants – James Brewer (G)

Brewer doesn’t have the skill to be a starting guard nor the versatility to be a flexible depth option for the Giants. He carries a $758,023 cap into his final contract year, and can clear $650,000 with a release.

New York Jets – Mike Goodson (RB)

It doesn’t cost the Jets anything to carry Goodson as a camp back until the end of the offseason, but it’s highly likely they part ways before the final roster is set. He’s faced legal troubles, suspensions, and has been replaced four times over with Chris Johnson, Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory, and Alex Green. He also clears $1 million in cap space when cut loose.

Oakland Raiders – Kevin Burnett (LB)

The Raiders bolstered their defensive front this offseason by acquiring Justin Tuck (NYG), Antonio Smith (HOU), Pat Sims (CIN), and of course selected Khalil Mack. In addition, the linebacking core actually improved in 2013, bumping Kevin Burnett and his $4.142 million 2014 cap figure down the depth chart. His release clears $3.5 million in cap.

Philadelphia Eagles – Casey Matthews (LB)

Matthews has little to no role in the Eagles’ current defensive structure, making him simply a special teams asset. His role was increased in 2013 due to injury, and should make him a strong case for a release out of camp. He’ll clear $645k should they do so.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Sean Spence (LB)

Spence will attempt to return from a major injury in 2013. The Steelers have made it clear he’ll get a shot to compete in camp, but it’s possible they move on from his risky situation shortly thereafter. He carries a $726,435 cap into his 3rd NFL season, and can be let go for $136,345 over each of the next two seasons.

San Diego Chargers – Jonas Mouton (LB)

The former 2nd round pick has slowly fallen into a third string role over his 3 NFL seasons in San Diego. While it’s possible for him to beat out veterans Kavell Connor, and Reggie Walker his $984,477 cap prices higher than both. He’ll likely need a strong showing to keep himself in the running.

San Francisco 49ers - Adam Snyder (G)

The 49ers utility lineman in 2013, Snyder actually handled his own fairly well. But San Francisco added strong depth to their line this offseason in Jonathan and Marcus Martin. The $1.3 million cap figure for Snyder may price him out of a job this offseason, clearing $1.05 million should he be released.

Seattle Seahawks – Terrelle Pryor (QB)

He certainly fits the Seahawks current offensive mold, but all signs point to Tarvaris Jackson winning out the backup role behind Wilson (especially with a fully guaranteed $1.25M contract). It’s possible this is the end of the road for Pryor in the NFL. It costs the Seahawks nothing to cut him loose.

St. Louis Rams – Isaiah Pead (RB)

3 months ago I was typed Sam Bradford into this spot without blinking. But the Rams did nothing to bring in a QB to even compete for the starting role in 2014. This being said, the running back pool in St. Louis has gotten surprisingly deep, and the odd man out appears to be former 2nd round pick Isaiah Pead, who had just 7 attempts in 2013. His $1.1 million cap figure for 2014 stands to be overpriced, and the Rams will clear $757,100 with his release.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Da’Quan Bowers (DE)

Bowers seems to be a “Lovie” type player. But reports out of Tampa Bay say his conditioning and current production isn’t near where they want it to be thus far. He’ll certainly get a camp to make this better, but should the Buccaneers move on they’ll clear $900,768 from his $1.226 million cap figure.

Tennessee Titans – Patrick Bailey (LB)

He’s been a special teams asset at best over the past 4 seasons with the Titans, and his $1.3 million cap figure for 2014 seems mighty high for this type of role. Tennessee can clear $1.2 million of it by releasing him this offseason.

Washington Redskins – Logan Paulsen (TE)

He was rated 61st among tight ends in 2013 according to PFF, and his $2.23 million cap figure stands way too high for a potential 3rd-string player. The Redskins can clear $1.87 million in 2014 by releasing him.

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