2023 NFL Roster Bubble Players
Our annual NFL Roster Bubble piece offers a position-by-position look at players that enter the 2023 offseason with some form of question mark surrounding their roster status. Our look at players who may be in line for a trade, release, or even retirement in the coming weeks, including the financial ramifications surrounding these type of moves going forward.
Marcus Mariota (ATL, 29)
2023 Cap: $14,500,000
Mariota left the Falcons late in the year as he dealt with knee issues, but Atlanta was ready to hand the reins over to Desmond Ridder anyway. There’s a $3M roster bonus on his 2023 salary due March 19th, & a release prior to it will free up $12M of space ($2.5M of dead cap).
Aaron Rodgers (GB, 39)
2023 Cap: $34,875,000
Well the Packers certainly aren’t releasing him ($99.7M of dead cap), so this is clearly a conversation about a trade or retirement (ignoring the fact for now that he probably just ends up back in Green Bay for 1 more year?). We’ve detailed all of the options here, but the most plausible scenario is that Rodgers is traded at the start of the 2023 league year. This move means $40.3M of dead cap for the Packers in 2023 (an $8.69M cap loss), but a chance to load up on 2023 draft picks, $40.7M over 2024 cap savings, and $144M cash coming off of their future books. Rodgers would bring cap hits of $14.6M, $32.5M, $51.1M, & $45.2M to a new team if traded.
Quickly, there’s of course a scenario where a trade or retirement is processed after June 1st (though 2023 draft picks wouldn’t be involved). In this case, the Packers’ dead cap would split into $15.8M for 2023, $24.4M for 2024, offering $15.79M of savings on June 2nd.
Jordan Love (GB, 24)
2023 Cap: $3,940,189
Does Love have trade value? He’s entering Year 4 of his rookie deal, set to earn a fully guaranteed $2.3M against a $3.9M cap hit. Green Bay needs to decide on his $16Mish 5th year option for 2024 this May. A trade this March frees up $2.3M of cap, but it feels like it might be his time to take the reins.
Matt Ryan (IND, 37)
2023 Cap: $35,205,882
$12M of Ryan’s $19.2M 2023 salary is already fully guaranteed. Another $7.2M of it, plus a $10M roster bonus locks in on March 17th. The Colts are in a bit of a transition period, despite a handful of extra large contracts on the books. With $17.2M of cap space to be freed up, releasing Ryan before the March 17th vesting date might be their best path forward, even if it means paying him $12M cash on the way out the door (subject to offset language which could reduce this by season end).
Derek Carr (LV, 31)
2023 Cap: $34,875,000
Carr holds a full no-trade clause and a February 15th vesting date on $40.4M of future salary guarantee. The Raiders can release him prior to this date at just a $5.625M dead cap charge ($29.25M saved). A trade would offer the same financial ramifications, but it would be a handshake agreement until March 15th, when the new league year officially opens. His contract would carry cap hits of $33M (guaranteed), $42M ($7.5M guaranteed), & $41.3M (non-guaranteed) if traded. It seems more and more likely that an outright release is in the cards here.
Jameis Winston (NO, 29)
2023 Cap: $15,600,000
$5.8M of Winston’s 2023 salary fully guarantees March 17th. He missed time due to injury, then was passed up on in favor of Andy Dalton to finish out the 2022 season. It seems unlikely the cap-light Saints will stick with this contract, but an early release only frees up $4.4M of space ($11.2M dead cap). Would a pay cut that aligns with his guaranteed money be best for both?
Zach Wilson (NYJ, 23)
2023 Cap: $9,586,549
Wilson was outplayed by Mike White in 2022, putting his immediate future in question. He’s fully guaranteed at $9.3M over the next two seasons, so there’s no scenario where an outright release is business-friendly here, but packaging a draft pick with him to find a trade partner certainly seems plausible. A Pre June 1st trade represents a $1.8M cap loss, while a move after 6/2 opens up $3.85M of space.
Mitchell Trubisky (PIT, 28)
2023 Cap: $10,625,000
The Steelers likely saw enough positives from Kenny Pickett in 2022 to give him a full shake next season. Trubisky’s $10.625M cap seems too rich for a backup option, and Pittsburgh could use the $8M of space a release would open up.
Trey Lance (SF, 22)
2023 Cap: $9,301,439
Only because many will ask. Lance is fully guaranteed at $9M over the next two seasons, but his traded contract holds caps of $3.7M, $5.3M + a 5th year option. If the 49ers are offered a haul of picks, there’s a world where this is a win/win situation for both sides of a trade here. But it seems much more likely that both Lance and Brock Purdy are nursed back to full health, and are given a chance to compete for the 2023 QB1 job.
Tom Brady (TB, 45)
2023 Cap: $35,104,000
Technically Brady isn’t under contract for 2023, but we’re adding him because we expect him to be soon. If his retirement is officially official, the Bucs may ask Brady to sign a non-guaranteed 1 year, $1.165M minimum contract for the upcoming season. This will allow Tampa Bay to delay filing his retirement papers until June 2nd, splitting up the $35.1M of dead cap into $10.776M for 2023, $24.3M for 2024.
Ryan Tannehill (TEN, 34)
2023 Cap: $36,600,000
Tannehill is entering a contract year in 2023, set to earn a non-guaranteed $27M (the traded value). A Pre June 1st trade or release opens up $17.8M of space - but do the Titans have a replacement plan?
Carson Wentz (WSH, 30)
2023 Cap: $26,176,470
Wentz didn’t do much to sway the doubters back in his favor in his 8 games played last season. It seems a long shot that he’ll see any of the remaining 2 years, $53.4M, and with a $5M roster bonus due March 17th, we’ll likely see quick action. There’s no dead cap associated with this contract, so Washington will free up all $26.1M here.
Cordarrelle Patterson (ATL, 31)
2023 Cap: $5,500,000
Tyler Allgeier has deservedly taken a number of attempts away from him, so there’s a chance the Falcons look to get a little younger and cheaper for Patterson’s reduced role. There’s $1.75M to be saved on a Pre 6/1 move, $4.25M if it’s a Post 6/1 designation.
Gus Edwards (BAL, 27)
2023 Cap: $5,634,000
Edwards missed all of 2021 & half of 2022, though he managed to average nearly 5 yards per carry when active last season. He’s a player of value when healthy, but it stands to reason that Baltimore could opt to free up the $4.3M of cap here.
Nyheim Hines (BUF, 26)
2023 Cap: $4,790,000
Hines certainly made his impact felt on the Bills’ special teams, but wasn’t much of a factor in their offensive schemes down the stretch. Will a non-guaranteed $4.79M salary be too rich to keep going forward? There’s no dead cap on the deal for Buffalo to deal with.
Joe Mixon (CIN, 26)
2023 Cap: $12,761,754
Mixon’s overall production dipped last season after a career-best 2021 campaign. Samaje Perine held his own in a relief role, but is slated for free agency next season. Will the Bengals look to bring him back at a respectable price and save on Mixon’s big deal? There’s $7.2M cap to be freed up Pre 6/1, $10M if processed after. Mixon would carry cap hits of $10.1M, $10.3M with him to a new team if a trade is the way forward.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, 27)
2023 Cap: $16,720,000
This was always the line of demarcation year in Elliott’s contract, so despite plenty of noise coming out of Dallas that there’s mutual interest in continuing, he’ll begin the offseason as a bubble candidate. Zeke holds $11.86M of dead cap against his $16.72M figure, so there’s $4.86M of space to open up with a Pre 6/1 move. That increases to $10.9M with a Post 6/1 trade or release.
Chase Edmonds (DEN, 26)
2023 Cap: $5,920,000
Edmonds averaged 4.8 yards per carry in 5 games with the Broncos after being acquired via Miami in the Bradley Chubb deal. He’s a complimentary piece to the puzzle, so a near $6M cap hit ($0 dead cap) may be too rich to keep around.
Aaron Jones (GB, 28)
2023 Cap: $20,020,000
Jones can still produce at a high level, but any 28-year-old running back entering a season at a $20M+ cap hit is contractually obligated to be on this list. His traded contract carries cap hits of $16M, $12M. If the Packers need to release him, there’s $10.44M of space to be freed up by doing so prior to a $7M March 17th roster bonus being paid out.
Jonathan Taylor (IND, 24)
2023 Cap: $5,116,482
We’ve started to hear rumblings about the possibility of the Colts finding a trade partner for JT as he enters a contract year. A proven performance escalator has increased his final year salary north of $4M, putting him on the books at a $5.1M cap charge. Would the draft pick haul + $4M of cap savings be enough to twist Indy’s arm here?
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC, 23)
2023 Cap: $3,443,228
The Chiefs need to decide on CEH’s 5th year option by May, but may also seek another team to take on his fully guaranteed $2M salary for 2023 in the process. Isiah Pacheco is clearly ready for a bigger role, but with Jerick McKinnon slated for free agency, keeping CEH in the fold through 2023 still has value for the Chiefs.
Brandon Bolden (LV, 33)
2023 Cap: $2,850,000
Bolden held down a limited role in 2022, & if the plan is to bring back Josh Jacobs on what could be an inflated franchise tag figure, freeing up the $2.2M of cap space here will come in handy.
Dalvin Cook (MIN, 27)
2023 Cap: $14,101,272
This was always going to be the line of demarcation for Cook’s contract, as the early guarantees have gone by the wayside and the cap hits far outpace the dead cap figures. $2M of 2023 salary does become fully guaranteed on March 17th, but a release prior to that can open up over $7.8M of cap space. If a trade is in the works, Cook will bring cap hits of $11M ($2M guaranteed), $12.5M (non-guaranteed), & $13.5M (non-guaranteed) along with him.
Leonard Fournette (TB, 28)
2023 Cap: $8,470,576
$2M of Fournette’s 2023 salary is already fully guaranteed, and another $2M locks in March 19th. If the Bucs are willing to pay that initial $2M to move on, they can open up $5.4M of cap space in the process.
Antonio Gibson (WSH, 24)
2023 Cap: $3,028,843
Gibson was thrust back into a bigger spotlight when Brian Robinson was forced to miss the start of the season due to injury. He’s rounding into a much more versatile back, catching nearly 50 balls in each of the past two seasons, but if Robinson is set to take over the reins full-time, the Commanders can open up $2.7M of cap space by moving on from Gibson.
DeAndre Hopkins (ARI, 30)
2023 Cap: $30,750,000
Hopkins has hit the trade hot stove of late, though that’s cooled a bit of late. The deal holds $34.3M over the next two seasons, but none of it is guaranteed, and Hopkins is likely looking to reup to a price point that more aligns with Tyreek, Davante, etc… If the Cardinals aren’t willing to oblige, there’s $8.15M of cap to be freed up with a Pre 6/1 trade out of town.
Robbie Anderson (ARI, 29)
2023 Cap: $12,000,000
Anderson caught 7 passes for 76 yards in 10 games with the Cardinals after being traded over from the Panthers. Arizona can free up all $12M here.
Isaiah McKenzie (BUF, 27)
2023 Cap: $2,925,000
McKenzie’s targets seemed to lessen down the stretch, putting his $2.225M salary on notice. That’s the amount cap-strapped Buffalo can free up by moving on before his $250,000 roster bonus hits on March 17th.
Tyler Boyd (CIN, 28)
2023 Cap: $10,285,280
Boyd still produces plenty in the wide open Bengals’ offense, but with Burrow, Higgins, & Chase all in line for contract updates, he may simply be a victim of the cap/cash bubble here. His 1 year, $8.9M contract might be tradeable, but that’s the number Cincy can free up with a trade or release this offseason.
Tee Higgins (CIN, 24)
2023 Cap: $3,961,416
Higgins is a premier wide receiver, so putting him on the bubble list seems wrong in every fashion. But there’s a very plausible chance that he enters contract talks with the Bengals seeking far more than Cincy is willing to offer him in his current role. If negotiations break down, there’s at least an outside chance that the Bengals start to scout his trade value, assessing their best path forward. He’s a $20M WR in our system while in Ja’Marr Chase’s shadow - what would he be as a true WR1?
K.J. Hamler (DEN, 23)
2023 Cap: $2,270,905
Hamler’s hit the IR each of his first three NFL seasons. It seems likely that Denver simply cuts their losses here, freeing up $1.5M of much needed cap space in doing so.
Brandin Cooks (HOU, 29)
2023 Cap: $26,463,302
Cooks said his goodbyes at the trade deadline - but wasn’t traded. He said his goodbyes again after Week 18. Will he be given his ticket out of Houston? An outright release is out of the question ($34.2M dead cap, $18M cash). His traded contract comes with 2 years, $35M, $18M fully guaranteed, with cap hits of $18.5M, $16.5M respectively. The Texans would take on $16.2M of dead cap this year, freeing up $10.2M of space.
Keenan Allen (LAC, 30)
2023 Cap: $21,700,000
Allen missed 7 costly games last season, but was on pace for his usual 100+ catch, 1,000+ yard, 6+ TD campaign prior to his injury. His cap hit soars to $21.7M next year, then $25.8M in 2024. $1.5M of his 2023 salary is fully guaranteed, but it seems plausible that the Chargers could secure a trade partner ($19M, $23.1M) if they sought a move. A Pre 6/1 trade would open up $16.3M of cap space for LAC.
Adam Thielen (MIN, 32)
2023 Cap: $19,967,647
Thielen signed a revised deal last March to secure his roster spot for the 2022 campaign. We’re not so sure that happens again this time around (despite Thielen-like production once again last season). His entire $11,817,647 salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 17th, so Minnesota will need to make a move quickly here. An outright release opens up $6.4M of cap space.
DeVante Parker (NE, 30)
2023 Cap: $6,206,250
Parker secured 31 catches for 539 yards and 3 TDs after being acquired from Miami last offseason. There’s $6.2M of cap to be freed up here if he’s traded or released, but for now, this one seems unlikely.
Kendrick Bourne (NE, 27)
2023 Cap: $6,872,539
Bourne was wildly under-utilized in 2022, so it’s fair to wonder if the addition of Bill O’Brien to run the show now could change that. There’s $5.4M to be freed up here with a move, but it seems like Bourne will be back in the fold for 2023.
Michael Thomas (NO, 29)
2023 Cap: $13,558,588
The Saints moved some numbers around prior to the 2022 season ending to set things up for March. It appears that the plan is to designate Thomas a Post 6/1 release, carry his $13.5M cap hit until then, then take on dead cap hits of $11.9M in 2023, and $14.1M in 2024, saving $1.5M against the upcoming cap (but not until June 2nd).
Kenny Golladay (NYG, 29)
2023 Cap: $21,400,000
Golladay has 43 catches & 1 TD in 26 games since joining the Giants (earning $36M for his efforts), and yet this story can’t totally be closed yet. A $4.5M roster bonus, due March 17th, is already fully guaranteed. Will the Giants find a trade partner to take this contract off of their hands ($18M cap hit this and next year)? If not, they may be paying a $4.5M parting gift to free up the roster spot, & $11.2M of cap space.
Corey Davis (NYJ, 28)
2023 Cap: $11,166,667
The quarterback play certainly hasn’t helped, but Davis hasn’t been able to separate himself much in two years with the Jets, despite a healthy $27M payout. None of his $10.5M for 2023 is guaranteed, and the Jets can open up all of it with a trade or outright release. Is he a piece in a potential Aaron Rodgers deal?
Braxton Berrios (NYJ, 28)
2023 Cap: $8,232,500
The Jets can’t cut ALL of their wide receivers, but a player who caught 18 balls last season and can free up $5.5M of cap space this offseason at least needs to be mentioned here. A new offensive coordinator might see Berrios’ usage differently.
Denzel Mims (NYJ, 25)
2023 Cap: $1,728,905
Mims has 42 catches and 0 TDs in 30 career games as a Jet. New York can open up $1.35M of cap space by moving on this March.
D'Wayne Eskridge (SEA, 25)
2023 Cap: $1,623,683
Eskridge just hasn’t found his footing in this Seattle offense, grabbing just 17 passes in 20 games. An early March trade/release frees up $778,773.
Brandon Aiyuk (SF, 24)
2023 Cap: $3,987,245
The 49ers have plenty of questions to answer this offseason, and what to do with Aiyuk probably isn’t one of them - but it might be. There’s a potential “sell-high” move to be made here, cashing in on Aiyuk’s career-high 78 catches, 1,015 yards, and 8 TDs. Will a team like the Bears view him as a potentially untapped weapon? There’s $2.3M of cap space to be opened up by shipping Aiyuk out this offseason - but for now, it still seems unlikely.
Mike Evans (TB, 29)
2023 Cap: $23,698,500
Evans is entering a contract year. Are the Buccaneers in a position to pay a premium price on a 29-year-old wide receiver? Will Evans be willing to play out an expiring contract with Blaine Gabbert at the helm? There’s at least a chance this relationship begins to pull apart this offseason as Tampa Bay enters a different window. Moving on Pre 6/1 opens up only $2.3M of cap, while a trade after that can free up $14.5M of space.
Robert Woods (TEN, 30)
2023 Cap: $14,616,666
Woods’ return from injury saw him average 3 catches, 31 yards per game. It’s going to be tough to justify that kind of production against a near $15M cap figure next season. Tennessee can free up $12M of space with an early trade or release.
Gerald Everett (LAC, 28)
2023 Cap: $8,000,000
Everett has been rumored to be on the bubble despite having $1.5M of his 2023 salary already fully guaranteed. Will the Chargers offering him the parting gift to free up $5.5M of cap space?
Durham Smythe (MIA, 27)
2023 Cap: $4,250,000
There’s more to Smythe’s game than catching a few balls a week, and it’s not fair to devalue him in that manner, but the Dolphins have cap to free up this offseason, and a move here would open up $3.5M.
Noah Fant (SEA, 25)
2023 Cap: $6,850,000
Fant was a piece of the Russell Wilson trade, catching 50 balls and 4 TDs in 2022. He holds a fully guaranteed $6.85M 5th year option salary in 2023, so any kind of move out of Seattle would have to come via trade. Will Dissly appears to have a stronghold on the primary TE role right now, but the Seahawks may opt to offer Geno Smith as many weapons as possible next season, even at a bit of an overpay.
Cameron Brate (TB, 31)
2023 Cap: $4,985,000
Brate signed a restructured deal to remain in the fold for 2022, but the Bucs need cap space wherever they can find it right now. An outright release only frees up $2M, but every little bit helps here.
Logan Thomas (WSH, 31)
2023 Cap: $8,675,000
Injuries & inconsistencies haven’t allowed Thomas to recreate his breakout 2020 season since then, and his contract is now right side up in terms of dead cap. The Commanders can open up $5.175M of space by moving on, but with a new QB likely coming into the picture, his veteran experience might be deemed too important to walk away from.
Rodney Hudson (ARI, C, 34)
2023 Cap: $4,810,000
Hudson appears to be on the way out in one way or another (release or retirement), as the Cardinals have already dropped his 2023 base salary down to a near minimum $2M. Arizona will carry his $4.8M cap hit through June 2nd, then take on dead hits of $1.76M in 2023, $3.52M in 2024, opening up $3M of space at that point.
Mitch Morse (BUF, C, 30)
2023 Cap: $11,160,000
Morse took a pay cut in 2021, then agreed to a restructured extension last March that locked him in through the 2022 season. $2.36M of his 2023 compensation fully guarantees on March 19th, but the Bills can open up $6.16M of space by moving on prior to that date.
Cody Whitehair (CHI, G, 30)
2023 Cap: $14,100,000
The Bears don’t need cap space this March, but they need to improve this roster immediately. Whitehair’s deal is a holdover from the previous regime, and it carries a non-guaranteed $20.15M over the next two seasons. Chicago can open up $5.8M of room if they decide to upgrade here.
Lucas Patrick (CHI, C, 29)
2023 Cap: $5,382,500
Patrick battled a toe injury that limited his 2022 season to just 7 games. Sam Mustipher filled in well in his absence, and is slated for restricted free agency this March. Moving on from Patrick opens up $3.9 of cap - enough to cover Mustipher’s tender.
La'el Collins (CIN, RT, 30)
2023 Cap: $9,384,306
If the Bengals plan is to continue to build this O-Line up through the draft, Collins could be a one-and-done candidate in Cincy. A Pre June 1st release frees up $6M of much needed cap space, but can Cincinnati afford to be thin in the trenches?
Tyron Smith (DAL, OT, 32)
2023 Cap: $17,605,000
Smith enters a contract year, set to earn $13.6M against a $17.6M hit. He was moved to the right side of the line after returning from injury, making way for Tyler Smith (no relation) to take on the blindside role. There’s $9.5M of cap space to open up here if the Cowboys decide to move on, but it still seems like a big if right now.
Graham Glasgow (DEN, G, 30)
2023 Cap: $14,000,000
Glasgow is entering a contract year in 2023, set to earn $11M against a $14M hit. There’s a $1M roster bonus due March 19th, and Denver can open up all $11M by moving on.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai (DET, G, 29)
2023 Cap: $12,448,194
Vatai has missed action each of the past three seasons, including all of 2022. The Lions can open up $6.5M with a Pre 6/1 release, though Evan Brown his replacement this season is also slated for free agency this March.
David Bakhtiari (GB, OT, 31)
2023 Cap: $28,789,035
Bakhtiari has seen action in just 24 games over the past 3 seasons, but can still hold his own when healthy. There’s a $9.5M roster bonus due March 19th, and a Pre 6/1 release only frees up $5.6M of cap, but he still sits squarely on the bubble for now.
A.J. Cann (HOU, G, 31)
2023 Cap: $6,220,588
With a new QB coming to town, the Texans probably won’t deplete their offensive line too much, but with $5.2M of cap to be freed up here, there’s at least a chance Houston flips this contract for a rookie deal.
Matt Feiler (LAC,G, 30)
2023 Cap: $8,500,000
Feiler’s overall production dipped in 2022, putting his $6.5M salary on notice (all of which will clear with a release). There’s a good chance the Chargers will spend multiple draft picks on shoring up the O-Line as they prepare to back the Brinks truck up for QB Justin Herbert.
Andre James (LV, C, 25)
2023 Cap: $6,980,000
James enters a contract year in 2023, having started 13 games for the Raiders last season. Vegas can open up $5M of cap by moving on, paving the way for 2022 3rd rounder Dylan Parham to take over the reins.
Trenton Brown (NE, OT, 29)
2023 Cap: $12,161,760
Brown’s cap hit jumps up over $8M next season, with only $1.25M of dead cap pinned against it. He started 14 games for New England last season, so an outright release doesn’t seem likely, despite $11M of cap space to be opened up. We’d bet on a restructured contract with a 1-year guarantee that lowers the 2023 hit.
Andrus Peat (NO, G, 29)
2023 Cap: $18,371,000
Back-to-back restructures keep this contract difficult to move off from, but it seems a foregone conclusion anyway. A Pre 6/1 release only frees up $1.3M of cap space, while a Post 6/1 designation would open up $11.825M. The Saints have had players agree to base salary pay cuts in order to help facilitate a Post 6/1 move, and this feels like one of those situations. Dropping Peat’s deal down to the minimum for 2023 lowers his cap hit to $7.71M, a much more tenable number to have to carry through June 1st.
Duane Brown (NYJ, OT, 37)
2023 Cap: $11,281,882
Brown’s cap hit increases over $7.6M for 2023. He struggled in pass protection this past season, but with a potential splash veteran QB signing coming in, New York may opt for experience on their O-Line. A Pre 6/1 release frees up $5M, while a Post 6/1 designation makes it $9.7M opened up in June.
Gabe Jackson (SEA, G, 31)
2023 Cap: $11,262,223
Jackson seems like the odd man out on an offensive line that really progressed in 2022. Moving on from the 31-year-old can open up $6.5M of cap space for Seattle.
Donovan Smith (TB, OT, 29)
2023 Cap: $17,900,000
The Bucs will face some pain this offseason as they morph into life without TB12. Releasing your starting left tackle isn’t an ideal place to start, but the $9.95M of space to be had is certainly much needed. The 29 year old is entering a contract year, set to earn $15.25M cash in 2023.
Shaq Mason (TB, G, 29)
2023 Cap: $9,517,168
Mason played well enough to stick for 2023, but the Buccaneers are going to have to make moves they don’t necessarily want to make to get cap neutral this March. This could mean an extension for the 29-year-old to keep his prorated dead cap spread out, and keep him in the fold for what could be a Blaine Gabbert run offense. If he’s released, a Pre 6/1 move opens up $5.2M of space.
Taylor Lewan (TEN, OT, 31)
2023 Cap: $14,841,000
Lewan enters a contract year, set to earn a non-guaranteed $14.8M. All of it can come off of the books with an outright release or trade.
Chase Roullier (WSH, C, 29)
2023 Cap: $12,420,000
Roullier has played just 10 games in the past 2 seasons, putting his $12M+ cap hit on notice. A Pre June 1st release opens up $4.32M of space, while a Post 6/1 move frees up $8.3M.
Ed Oliver (BUF, 26)
2023 Cap: $10,753,000
Oliver enters his fully guaranteed 5th year option season and was very much in consideration for a long-term extension this time last year. But career low production in 2022 leaves his future in Buffalo very much in question. If the Bills can locate a trade partner, look for them to make the move. All $10.753M of his salary would transfer to the new team.
Tim Settle (BUF, 25)
2023 Cap: $4,945,000
Settle saw action in 36% of the snaps he was available to take, offering up 19 tackles, 1 sack, & 1 forced fumble during that time. His $4.9M cap figure for 2023 isn’t dauting, but the Bills need cap space, and there’s $2.2M to be freed up here prior to March 19th, when $1.9M of his salary fully guarantees.
Michael Brockers (DET, 32)
2023 Cap: $13,975,000
Brockers enters a contract year, set to earn a non-guaranteed $10M in 2023. He missed most of 2022 with injury, compiling depth production at best in the 6 games he was active for. The Lions will pick up $10M of cap savings by moving in this March.
Roy Robertson-Harris (JAX, 29)
2023 Cap: $10,133,334
Robertson-Harris enters a contract year in 2023, set to earn $7.8M. He’s been consistently solid for the better part of 6 NFL seasons, but with a cap hit north of $10M on the books, and cap-strapped Jacksonville able to free up $7.8M of space by moving on, he has to be considered a bubble player for now.
Fletcher Cox (PHI, 32)
2023 Cap: $10,000,000
While he’s “technically” under contract for 2023, his $1.5M cash salary is a dummy year that allows Philly to carry his contract through June 1st, splitting his dead cap up into $2.5M for 2023, $7.5M for 2024. That of course is under the assumption that Cox and the Eagles don’t come to agreement on an extension in the coming week.
Quinton Jefferson (SEA, 29)
2023 Cap: $6,485,000
One of Jefferson or Shelby Harris probably falls off of this roster for cap purposes as the Seahawks look to get younger and faster on their D-Line. Both players had respectable 2022 campaigns, and with Jefferson on an expiring contract that carries $4.2M of cash/cap to be moved, he makes the list as a potential trade target. Especially as he’s spent time on the interior in 3-4s and on the edge in 4-3 defenses.
Dennis Gardeck (ARI, OLB, 28)
2023 Cap: $4,216,666
Gardeck and Markus Golden enter the offseason in similar situations with near identical finances attached to them. Moving on from Golden opens up $3M of cap, while releasing Gardeck frees up $2.8M.
A.J. Epenesa (BUF, DE, 24)
2023 Cap: $1,870,050
Epenesa hasn’t rounded into the player the Bills were hoping he’d become, and he enters a contract season in 2023. There’s only $1.4M of cap to be opened up here, but with Buffalo’s current financial situation, every little bit helps.
Romeo Okwara (DET, DE, 27)
2023 Cap: $14,500,000
He’s seen action in just 9 games since 2021, making another $14.5M cap hit tough to justify. Detroit can open up $7.5M of cap space with an early March release.
Mario Addison (HOU, DE, 35)
2023 Cap: $4,423,521
While the cap is certainly feasible, Addison finds himself on a team very much hitting the reset button. With $3.4M to be freed up, he may be looking to latch on with a contender in the next few weeks.
Jerry Hughes (HOU, DE, 34)
2023 Cap: $6,250,000
The 34-year-old posted 9 sacks, 33 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception in 2022, proving he’s still a legitimate asset, even in the toughest of situations. There’s a world where a team values his $5M non-guaranteed salary in a trade market this offseason, and the Texans should be listening.
Frank Clark (KC, DE, 29)
2023 Cap: $30,175,000
Clark signed a restructured extension this past March to lower his cap hit and stay in the fold. He responded with a Frank Clark type season (5 sacks, 40 tackles), but now sits with a $30.1M cap hit for the upcoming campaign. With Chris Jones poised for a new deal, can the Chiefs extend Clark again? Will they bite the bullet on a restructure that pushes dead cap down the line? This is a situation to watch - and many teams will be.
Chandler Jones (LV, DE, 32)
2023 Cap: $19,312,000
This one seems pretty unlikely, as the only way out of town for Jones is a trade, and he’s coming off one of his poorer career seasons. There’s an $8.5M roster bonus for March already fully guaranteed, and he carries a 2 year, $34M contract ($17M/$17M) with him to a new team if traded, freeing up $9.7M for Las Vegas.
Leonard Williams (NYG, DE, 28)
2023 Cap: $32,260,000
After 2 extremely productive seasons in 2020-2021, Williams’ production dipped off slightly - mostly stemming from 5 weeks missed. There are a few reasons Williams finds himself on this list, and his inability to make a difference on the field isn’t one of them. 1) The Giants have a LOT of mouths to feed offensively. 2) Dexter Lawrence is in his extension window. 3) Williams is on an expiring contract with a loaded cap figure. It just may be the wrong time to extend Williams on this roster, making him a very attractive trade candidate this March. He holds a 1 year, $18M (non-guaranteed) contract if moved, freeing up over $12M of cap for the Giants.
Carl Lawson (NYJ, DE, 27)
2023 Cap: $15,333,334
Lawson has faced a tough road injury wise since joining the Jets back in 2021. With all of the guaranteed money now off the books, and $15M to be saved on his 2023 cap hit, it stands to reason New York will move off this deal, even if the intention is to bring him back on something fresher.
Bud Dupree (TEN, OLB, 29)
2023 Cap: $20,200,000
The Titans have work to do on their cap table, and Dupree hasn’t approached living up to the $34M he’s earned from them over the past two seasons, but $1.25M of his 2023 salary is fully guaranteed right now. It’s rare to see teams hand out cash payments to players they release, but it certainly happens. If that becomes the case here, a Pre 6/1 cut can open up $10.6M of much needed cap space.
Malik Harrison (BAL, 25)
2023 Cap: $1.3M
The 3rd rounder back in 2020 has seen limited action in 3 seasons, but - as Ravens’ linebackers tend to do - has also made a name for himself in that span. With Roquan Smith paid, and Patrick Queen trending in that direction soon, finding a trade partner for Harrison in the final year of his rookie deal holds some logic.
Eric Kendricks (MIN, 31)
2023 Cap: $11,430,000
He can still fill up a stat-line with the best of them, but the Vikings need to begin the process of getting younger (and subsequently cheaper) especially on the defensive side of the ball. Kendricks’ expiring contract can open up $9.5M of much needed cap space for Minnesota, who may address this position fairly early in the April draft.
C.J. Mosley (NYJ, 30)
2023 Cap: $21,476,000
Mosley’s contract gets right side up for the first time this offseason, at least mildly putting him in consideration for being moved on from. The Jets can free up $6.5M with an early outright release, but doing so will leave a large hole in the middle of their defense. A base salary conversation can reduce the cap hit by $12.6M.
Myles Jack (PIT, 27)
2023 Cap: $11,250,000
The Steelers took a flier on Jack that included $8M last season, and $8M (non-guaranteed) for 2023. With Robert Spillane & Devin Bush headed to free agency, the cupboards are already pretty bare in the center of the Steelers’ defense. But getting out of this deal and starting over everywhere still makes sense.
Zach Cunningham (TEN, 28)
2023 Cap: $13,426,466
Cunningham missed 11 weeks due to injury, putting his $13M cap hit now on notice. Tennessee has cap to clear, and possible a roster to start turning over as well, meaning positions like this will probably be passed over for rental options. Moving off of this contract opens up almost $9M of space for the Titans.
Shaquill Griffin (JAX, 28)
2023 Cap: $17,147,055
The Jags still have work to do to tinker with this roster and step to the next level in the AFC. That takes cap space, and Jacksonville is currently in the red in that regard. Moving on from Griffin’s expiring contract opens up $13.1M of space.
Jalen Ramsey (LAR, 28)
2023 Cap: $25,200,000
The Rams haven’t been shy about moving on from players a year earlier than we expect them to. Will Ramsey be the next version of this tactic? $12.5M of his 2023 salary is already fully guaranteed, but LAR can free up $5.6M of cap space with an early trade. For now, this seems highly unlikely.
Ahkello Witherspoon (PIT, 27)
2023 Cap: $5,482,500
Witherspoon missed most of 2022 due to injury, offering Cam Sutton & Levi Wallace a chance to collectively take that space. Sutton is slated for free agency, so it stands to reason that the Steelers would roll with a Wallace/Witherspoon combo next year, but there’s $4M to be saved here if not.
William Jackson (PIT, 30)
2023 Cap: $12,176,471
Acquired from Washington for a late round pick swap, a back injury kept Jackson from showing with Pittsburgh in 2022. He holds a non-guaranteed $12.1M next season including a $2.5M roster bonus due March 17th.
Byron Jones (MIA, 31)
2023 Cap: $18,351,000
The guarantees fall off of this massive contract for the first time this offseason. With Xavien Howard now under contract, it feels like the Dolphins are at a point where they can move off of this deal, despite its minimal immediate savings ($3.5M).
Chuck Clark (BAL, 27)
2023 Cap: $6,268,333
Clark enters a contract year, set to earn a non-guaranteed $3.64M. With Kyle Hamilton waiting in the wings, his status for 2023 remains up in the air. The Ravens can free up $3.64M with a release or trade.
John Johnson (CLE, 27)
2023 Cap: $13,500,000
Johnson was a strong contributor in 16 2022 games (especially against the run) but with a fresh set of eyes taking over the Browns’ D, it stands to reason that a few notable pieces will be turned over. A Post 6/1 release can open up $9.75M of space for Cleveland (only $900,000 if Pre 6/1).
Eric Murray (HOU, 29)
2023 Cap: $5,357,500
Murray finished the season in a depth role for Houston, putting his $5.3M hit on notice. The Texans can open up $4M of space by moving on here.
Rayshawn Jenkins (JAX, 29)
2023 Cap: $10,250,000
Jenkins holds value on a young Jags roster, but his coverage numbers left plenty to be desired. His cap figure jumps north of $10M next season, and there’s $6.25M of cap space to be freed up by moving on Pre 6/1.
Harrison Smith (MIN, 34)
2023 Cap: $19,127,636
At first glance, a near $20M cap hit for a 34 year old defensive back is usually a slam dunk roster cut. But Smith played some of the best ball of his career to finish out 2022, and his eventual replacement Lewis Cine is recovering from a serious leg injury. A Pre 6/1 release frees up $7.8M of cap space, while a Post 6/1 designation would eventually open up $15.2M. However a base salary restructure, maybe the most likely outcome here, can open up $10.8M of cap space, keeping him in the fold for 2023.
Cairo Santos (CHI, K, 32)
2023 Cap: $4,500,000
Santos finished 2022 with a 91% hit rate on field goals, but he missed 5 PATs last season, putting his $4.5M cap figure in question. The Bears aren’t in desperate need of cap space, but there’s $3M to be freed up here.
Harrison Butker (KC, K, 27)
2023 Cap: $5,105,266
Butker had an off year by his standards, making only 75% of his field goals, and 92% of his PATs in 2022, by far his worst output to date. The Chiefs will have cap decisions to make this March, and there’s nearly $3M of space to be opened up with a Pre 6/1 move here.
Jason Sanders (MIA, K, 27)
2023 Cap: $3,775,000
Sanders made less than 80% of his field goal attempts while going 41/44 on PATs last season. He’s now had back to back inconsistent years from longer range, putting his $3.775M salary on notice.
Ryan Succop (TB, K, 36)
2023 Cap: $4,500,000
Succop made 81% of his field goals (31/38) in 2022, but hit 24 out of 25 PATs last season. In a normal offseason we look right past his contract, but with Tampa in a bit of cap mess entering March, the $3.75M of space to be opened up has to be under consideration.
Joey Slye (WSH, K, 26)
2023 Cap: 2,350,000
Slye converted 83% of his field goals and 85% of his PATs in 2022. His $2.35M cap hit for 2023 isn’t daunting, but if the Commanders can find a replacement, they’ll certainly opt for the $1.85M in space.