The Raiders Appear Poised to Blow it Up
With the shock of trading Khalil Mack still not worn off, Raiders fans might be in for a lot more shuffling soon, as multiple players find themselves on the Trade Block Hot Stove.
Amari Cooper has $452,941 remaining on his 2018 salary, and a $13.924M option for 2019. While Oakland has exercised this option, they (or any team he’s traded to) can release him from the contract prior to the start of the league year on March 13th with no dead cap impact. The Raiders would eat $6.75M of dead cap to trade Cooper before the upcoming 10/30 deadline.
Gareon Conley found himself on the bench for Week 6, which doesn’t bode well for his future in Oakland. He has $608,747 remaining on his 2018 salary, then $1.4M, & $1.8M respectively through 2020, with a potential 5th-year option available in 2021. Trading him in the next 2 weeks leaves behind $1.7M of dead cap in 2018, and another $2.86M in 2019 (which represents no savings)
Derek Carr is the least likely candidate to be traded, but his roster spot for 2019 is far from guaranteed. His 5 year $125M contract was always really just a 2 year $47M deal in terms of structure, as the Raiders can move on after 2018 for just a $7.5M dead cap hit, a savings of $15M next year. Carr’s got an awful lot of work to do over the next few weeks to justify his $22.5M cap figure in 2019.
The Patriots Receiving Core
With their thrilling 43-40 victory over the Chiefs last night, New England once again pushes themselves into the AFC favorite conversation (has there been a better October team in the history of the game?). The Patriots have now for a long time been a “weapon-by-committee” franchise, installing game plans built for different players on a weekly basis. While the success speaks for itself, it’s also very hard to keep a team intact for more than a season at a time. In looking forward to their pending free agents, we see three WRs who’ve had an impact in 2018, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, & Cordarrelle Patterson, with Josh Gordon slotted for restricted free agency as well. It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on the roles of these players heading down the stretch, as it pertains to the 2019 roster.
Relevant Sidenote: Julian Edelman’s return to the lineup could not be more evident, as the team has settled almost immediately upon his reinstatement. With that said, New England deserves a dump truck load of credit for how they’ve handled Edelman financially over the past 5 seasons locking him in on a 4 year $17M extension in 2014, then a 2 year, $11M extension this past June. The 32-year-old is the 43rd highest average paid WR in football.
Trending Down: Case Keenum
The 2-4 Broncos may soon be inline for another QB controversy, as free agent signing Case Keenum struggled again in a Week 6 loss to the Rams. Keenum also left a portion of the game to be evaluated for a concussion, at which time the 2017 Mr. Irrelevant Chad Kelly took the field to a huge ovation from frustrated fans.
Financially speaking, Keenum is on a 2-year $36M deal with the Broncos, but Denver can move on after 2018 with a decent out plan, which breaks down as follows:
Trading Keenum after 2018 (not likely): Leaves behind $3M of dead cap to Denver, clearing $18M in cap space for 2019.
Releasing Keenum after 2018: Leaves behind $10M of dead cap to Denver, clearing $11M of cap space for 2019, with the chance for more savings if Keenum signs elsewhere, as his $7M of salary guaranteed next year comes with offsets.
For now, Keenum holds a $21M cap hit, with $18M cash due in 2019.
Trending Up: Nathan Peterman’s interception total.
Thanks to an outstanding performance from their defense, the Bills had a great look at evening up their record at 3-3 at Houston Sunday afternoon. But a costly elbow injury to rookie QB Josh Allen made way for Nathan Peterman, who, as he’s down in all of his appearances, drove the Bills down the field for a score on his first possession, then settled back into his usual role of passing the ball to the other team a few times a quarter. If Josh Allen’s injury keeps him away, look for newly signed veteren Derek Anderson to man the ship from here forward in Buffalo. Anderson will earn $775,000 if he sticks with the team through Week 17. Should things tumble downhill from here for Buffalo, there's a silver lining in 2019. The Bills have 9 draft picks, and almost $91M in projected cap space for next season to date.
The Cowboys brutal start to 2018 had the coach one foot out the door and any mention of keeping Dak Prescott around long-term locked away in jar. But at 3-3 now, in a wide open NFC East race, both Dallas & Dak have a legitimate chance to not only salvage this year, but put themselves in the drivers seat on a more long-term level. It’s been clear for 6 weeks now that the Cowboys simply don’t have enough offensive weapons to be consistently great scorers, but the defense has over achieved to date, and Dak Prescott found a way to balance the offense against the top defense in the league in Jacksonville this weekend.
If this trend can continue, Dallas should consider being aggressive at the trade deadline to ramp up the receiving core. Prescott will have completed his third season after 2018, making him extension eligible. While it’s too early to assume one way or another about his future with the Cowboys, he took a big step forward this weekend toward making his case for a payday.