Expect to See These 15 Big-Name NFL Players Get Cut Next Offseason
Life for players in the National Football League is brutal. Not only do they subject their bodies to a severe physical pounding on a weekly basis, but they also have to deal with the extremely minimal job security that comes from playing on non-guaranteed contracts. Given the cutthroat and highly competitive nature of the league, NFL players constantly must look over their shoulders knowing that their team’s coaches, scouts, and personnel executives look for younger, cheaper options on a daily basis.
Nobody is invincible in the NFL. If you don’t believe us, just consider the fact that future Hall of Famers such as quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Steve Smith, and safety Charles Woodson all felt the pain of a team cutting them while they still had gas left in their tanks.
As we approach the end of the 2016 regular season, we have a pretty good idea as to which teams will make moves to clean house and cut ties with notable veteran players next offseason. Here is a look at 11 big-name NFL players we expect to get cut next offseason.
1. Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
We have said this a time or two already, but it’s only a matter of time until the Bears officially part ways with Jay Cutler. Bottom line: The ridiculously talented 33-year-old gunslinger has yet to even come close to realizing his full potential after 11 years in the league. And with the Bears being in rebuilding mode, it’s a virtual certainty that Cutler will be playing for another franchise in 2017.
With the structure of his current contract, there is very little chance that any of the other 31 teams in the NFL will have any interest in trading for the former Vanderbilt star. On top of that, the Bears will incur just a $2 million dead money hit if they release Cutler next offseason. Knowing this, we fully expect Chicago to cut Cutler shortly after the 2016 NFL season comes to an end.
2. Torrey Smith, WR, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers signed Torrey Smith to a five-year, $40 million deal during the 2015 offseason. After two seasons, Smith has produced a total of just 53 receptions for 930 yards and seven touchdowns. And with a scheduled salary cap hit of $9.6 million in 2017, we just don’t see any way the Niners can justify keeping the 27-year-old wideout on their roster.
3. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
After 103 games, 9,717 total yards, 63 total touchdowns, and four Pro Bowl appearances, it appears as though Jamaal Charles’s time with the Chiefs will be coming to an end after the 2016 season. The former Texas Longhorn continues to be injury prone, and given the fact that Kansas City desperately needs some salary cap relief — they have just over $4 million to work with and still have to re-sign defensive standouts Eric Berry and Dontari Poe, it can’t be overlooked that releasing Charles would free up $7 million.
It appears as though Charles fully intends to keep playing in 2017, but unless he takes an enormous paycut, it won’t be with the Chiefs.
4. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin’s job is in danger one year after he signed a highly lucrative five-year, $35.75 million contract extension with the Buccaneers. Thanks to his recent four-game PED suspension, all of the salary guarantees in the 28-year-old running back’s contract have now been voided. And when you combine that with his lackluster performance (2.9 yards per carry in eight games) in 2016, you have the makings of a player who will be looking for a new team this offseason.
5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Simply put: The only way Adrian Peterson will remain with the Vikings in 2017 is if he accepts a massive contract restructure. As it stands, the future Hall of Fame running back is scheduled to have an astronomical salary cap hit of $18 million next year. And since he will be in the final year of his deal, the Vikings can release Peterson without incurring any sort of dead money hit.
Our guess is that Peterson and the Vikings will amicably part ways at the end of the 2016 season. And given that he has an outside chance at challenging Emmitt Smith’s career rushing yards record, we fully expect the 2012 NFL MVP to land with another franchise next offseason.
6. Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Even the most casual NFL fans are likely fully aware that Tony Romo lost his job as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback to rookie Dak Prescott. As a direct result, this will likely be the 36-year-old’s final season with America’s Team.
The Cowboys would undoubtedly prefer to trade Romo this offseason (despite Jerry Jones’s public statements to the contrary). He is scheduled to have a salary cap hit of $24.7 million in 2017, and all but $5 million would be erased if they were able to swing a trade. However, it will be hard to convince another team to take on that contract given Romo’s injury history. With that being the case, we expect Jerry Jones to release the former face of his franchise this offseason.
If the Cowboys do indeed cut the four-time Pro Bowler, they will save $5.1 million in cap space.
7. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets
Watching Darrelle Revis play for the Jets this year has been painful. We still remember the future Hall of Famer consistently shutting down the best wide receivers in the game and taking half the field away from opposing offenses on a weekly basis like it happened yesterday. Now, Revis is a liability to a Jets defense that has struggled mightily in 2016.
There is no chance that Revis will play out the 2017 season on his current contract. He is scheduled to have a cap hit of $15,333,333, and the Jets are a mess financially. The 31-year-old may have a chance to stick with the Gang Green if he slides inside to safety, but our guess is that Revis’s career will continue with another franchise.
8. Brian Cushing, LB, Houston Texans
Over the course of his eight-year NFL career, Brian Cushing has established himself as one of the better players in Texans franchise history. That said, thanks in large part to multiple injuries, the 2009 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year just isn’t quite as dominant as he once was. And when you consider Houston’s current salary cap situation, it’s a virtual given that they will be looking to free up some money this offseason.
Cushing is scheduled to have a salary cap hit of $9,547,500 in 2017. If the Texans cut him, the 29-year-old linebacker would count as a $4.5 million dead money hit.
It is also possible that the team will attempt to restructure Cushing’s current deal to keep him in Houston for the remainder of his career. Regardless, we just don’t see the Texans carrying Cushing’s contract into the 2017 season as is.
9. Mario Williams, DE, Miami Dolphins
At this point in time, it’s safe to say that Mario Williams’s best days as an NFL player are behind him. When he wants to, the 31-year-old defensive end is still capable of playing at an impactful level. However, the former NC State standout looks generally disinterested in playing most of the time, and regularly appears to be taking plays off.
With a scheduled cap hit of $10.5 million, we just don’t see any way the Dolphins keep Williams around for the 2017 season. If they release him, Miami will incur a dead money hit of just $2 million.
10. Danny Amendola, WR, New England Patriots
Danny Amendola agreed to a restructured contract (that included a massive paycut) last offseason. And unless he agrees to something similar this offseason, his time with the Patriots will soon be coming to an end.
The 31-year-old wide receiver is slated to have a cap hit of $7,916,668, and given his minimal production in 2016 (23 receptions for 243 yards and four touchdowns), there is really no way we see New England head coach Bill Belichick not addressing his contract during the offseason.
If Amendola complies with another paycut, he could have a future with the Patriots. If not, the former undrafted free agent will almost surely face the chopping block next offseason.
11. Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Stewart will turn 30-years-old this offseason, and given his injury history (he has missed three more games this year already), our guess is the Panthers will be looking to shed his contract this coming offseason. The former Oregon Duck is scheduled to have a salary cap hit of $8.25 million in 2017, and can be released with a dead money cap hit of $3.5 million.
Like several others, Stewart will likely have a chance to come to an agreement on a restructured contract this offseason. In the end, though, we see the former first-round draft pick finishing his career with another franchise.
12. Julius Thomas, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars just haven’t gotten a very solid return on their investment in Julius Thomas. They signed the 6-foot-4, 251-pound tight end to a five-year, $46 million contract during the 2015 offseason, and the former college basketball player has repaid them by missing 11 games in two years while catching only 76 passes for 736 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Jags may not be ready to pull the plug on Thomas just yet, but if a cheaper, more reliable option comes along during free agency or in the Draft, we wouldn’t be surprised if they end up showing him the door.
13. Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts
To be blunt, Vontae Davis’s play took a sharp decline in 2016. The former Illinois standout entered the season coming off of two-straight Pro Bowl appearances, but was ultimately graded out as the 101st-best cornerback in the league in 2016 according to Pro Football Focus.
With the Colts having pressing needs all over their roster and Davis scheduled to have a salary cap hit of $10.25 million, it looks like the 6-foot, 205-pounder will be wearing a new uniform in 2017.
14. Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
At this point in time, we would be absolutely shocked if Colin Kaepernick was back with the 49ers next year. After restructuring his contract this fall, the controversial quarterback no longer has a guaranteed salary in 2017 and now also has the ability to opt out of his deal and become an unrestricted free agent. Regardless of whether he opts out or gets cut, Kaepernick has played his last down of football for the 49ers.
15. Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
When it comes down to it, Victor Cruz is likely going to face an ultimatum — take a hefty paycut or get cut — from the Giants this offseason. The 30-year-old wide receiver had a decent year in 2016 (39 catches for 586 yards and one touchdown), but he is simply no longer the type of player who is worthy of carrying a $9.4 million salary cap hit — especially with Sterling Shepard emerging as a solid No. 2 option opposite of Odell Beckham Jr.