Arizona Cardinals – Adrian Peterson – Running Back
Adrian Peterson was a good short-term solution at the running back position for the Cardinals after David Johnson’s injury last season. However, Peterson isn’t the star player that he once was and now that Johnson is back the team doesn’t need him anymore. Arizona can save $2.9 million against the cap by releasing Peterson and they could then find a backup running back cheaper in the draft or free agency.
Atlanta Falcons – Brooks Reed – Outside Linebacker
The Atlanta Falcons don’t have many players that they could release, but one guy that could be on his way out is outside linebacker Brooks Reed. Atlanta could save $3.56 million in 2018 by releasing Reed and that would be a substantial amount of cap space to save. Reed is a key role player for Atlanta’s defense, but he only had 4 sacks last season and the Falcons could probably find a younger and cheaper option at outside linebacker this offseason.
Baltimore Ravens – Jeremy Maclin – Wide Receiver
Jeremy Maclin wasn’t very productive in his first season with Baltimore as he only had 40 receptions for 440 yards. Maclin also struggled to stay healthy last season and it appears that the Ravens are ready to move on from him this offseason. The Ravens could save $5 million in cap space if they release Maclin so it would would be extremely shocking if he is a member of the Ravens next season.
Buffalo Bills – Tyrod Taylor – Quarterback
Tyrod Taylor has been a decent quarterback for the Bills, but he also has been inconsistent and he hasn’t proven that he can be their franchise quarterback. The Bills coaching staff doesn’t appear to be very confident in Taylor as their starting quarterback so it seems very likely that they will find his replacement this offseason. Buffalo also has a tremendous financial incentive to release Taylor. They can save $15 million if they release him after June 1st or they can save about $10 million if they release him prior to that date. Either way, it appears the Bills will have a new starting quarterback next season as the Bills can save a ton of money by moving on from Tyrod Taylor.
Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Stewart – Running Back
Christian McCaffrey was a top 10 pick by the Panthers at the running back position last season, so the Panthers could decide to make him their full-time starter at running back in 2018. If the Panthers decide to go that route then it could make current early-down back Jonathan Stewart expendable. Stewart is still a somewhat productive running back, although he isn’t getting younger and the Panthers are already deep at the position. The Panthers could keep him around for another season or they could cut ties with him this offseason and save $3.7 million in cap space.
Chicago Bears – Mike Glennon – Quarterback
The Chicago Bears made a mistake by signing Mike Glennon to a big contract in free agency last offseason especially considering they drafted Mitchell Trubisky less than two months after signing Glennon. Trubisky is now the clear starter for the Bears moving forward and that means Glennon and his big contract is sitting on the bench. Chicago can save a whopping $11.5 million in cap space if they release Glennon this offseason. The Bears can find a much cheaper backup QB in free agency and it would be shocking if they don’t let Glennon go very soon.
Cincinnati Bengals – Adam Jones – Cornerback
Adam Jones saw his role diminish significantly last season as the Bengals have much younger cornerbacks starting at the position. Jones has a lot of money owed to him next season and the Bengals could save $5.8 million in cap space by releasing him this offseason. Jones has been with the Bengals for awhile now, but considering his age, large contract, and diminished role it makes it highly likely that he won’t be back with the team next season.
Cleveland Browns – Cody Kessler – Quarterback
The Browns don’t really have any veteran players that are danger of being cut this offseason. However, Cody Kessler is the one player that could be in danger of being released this offseason. The main reason is not because Kessler is making much money at all, but Cleveland is just really deep at the quarterback position. The Browns are likely to draft a quarterback with the 1st overall pick and that means DeShone Kizer would now become the new backup QB. That means Kessler would be the 3rd-string QB for the Browns in 2018 and basically every NFL team only carries two QB’s on their active roster. Kessler just doesn’t have a role on this team any more and the team can save about $600,000 while letting him have a better role as a backup elsewhere.
Dallas Cowboys – Benson Mayowa – Defensive End
Benson Mayowa’s production and role has diminished for the Cowboys as he only had 1 sack for the team last season. The team needs to find another backup defensive end that can be an upgrade over Mayowa. However, the Cowboys could save $2.75 million in cap space by releasing Mayowa which is a considerable amount considering his decreased role with the team.
Denver Broncos – Aqib Talib – Cornerback
Aqib Talib is still a pro-bowl caliber cornerback, but the issue is the Broncos are already paying tons of money to Chris Harris and Bradley Roby at the cornerback position. The Broncos can save $11 million by releasing Talib this offseason and that is a considerable amount especially since the Broncos don’t have tons of cap room to begin with. Talib is still a productive player, but Denver is deep enough at cornerback already and they can save a large amount of money by releasing him.
Detroit Lions – Ameer Abdullah – Running Back
The Detroit Lions are probably looking to upgrade at the running back position this offseason as Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah have proven that they aren’t capable starters at the position. However, it is more likely that the team will keep Riddick as the 2nd running back on the depth chart because of his pass-catching abilities. That would essentially leave Abdullah as the 3rd-string running back and the team could just release him since he wouldn’t really have a role with the team anymore. Releasing Abdullah would only save the Lions about $1 million in space space, yet if the Lions upgrade at running back this offseason then it would likely leave Abdullah without a role.
Green Bay Packers – James Starks – Running Back
James Starks was once a very reliable backup running back for the Packers, but now he isn’t even a reliable backup as he averaged a terrible 2.3 yards per carry last season. The Packers can save $3 million by releasing Starks this offseason and they could then use that money to find a better backup at running back. Starks won’t have much of a role in 2018 so it makes sense for the Packers to let him go and save a decent amount of money.
Houston Texans – Brian Cushing – Inside Linebacker
Brian Cushing has spent his entire career with the Houston Texans since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL draft. However, Cushing’s time with the Texans might be coming to a close as he is a likely candidate to be released this offseason. Cushing certainly isn’t getting any younger as he is 31 years old and he hasn’t been very productive for Houston recently. Cushing also has some off-the-field concerns as he has been suspended twice in his career for PED use. Also, Cushing has struggled to stay healthy in recent years and he only played in 5 games last season mostly due to a 10-game PED suspension. Either way, Cushing is more trouble than he’s worth especially since the Texans can save a whopping $7.64 million in cap space by releasing him. Cushing could return in 2018 since he is still a decent starting linebacker, but the Texans could look for a younger and cheaper linebacker to take his place.
Indianapolis Colts – Margus Hunt – Defensive End
Margus Hunt had the best year of his NFL career last season with Indianapolis, but he still only had 29 tackles and 1 sack. Hunt is a decent backup defensive end, but he won’t help much if he isn’t able to provide a pass rush at some point. The Colts could choose to keep Hunt for defensive end depth in 2018, although the Colts might be able to find a younger and cheaper option than him this offseason. Indianapolis could create $2.5 million in cap space by releasing Hunt and they could then use that money to find a better backup defensive end that can actually provide a pass rush.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Allen Hurns – Wide Receiver
The Jaguars seemed like they made the right move by signing Allen Hurns to a 4-year/$40 million extension after the 2015 season. However, Hurns has been a major bust since that point as he has failed to have over 500 receiving yards during the past 2 seasons. Injuries have been an issue recently for Hurns as he missed 6 games this past season and 5 games during the previous season, yet he hasn’t been very productive even when on the field. Hurns has also been surpassed on the depth chart by young receivers Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole which makes him even more expendable. The good news is that the Jaguars can release him this offseason and create $7 million in cap space. It would be absolutely shocking if Hurns is on the Jaguars roster next season unless he agrees to take a significant pay cut which he is unlikely to do.
Kansas City Chiefs – Tamba Hali – Outside Linebacker
Tamba Hali has been a cornerstone of the Chiefs defense ever since he was drafted by the team in the 1st round of the 2006 draft. However, Hali is 34 years old and he isn’t the pass rusher that he once was several years ago. Hali only had 1 tackle in 5 games last season for the Chiefs as his role was clearly diminished. The Chiefs already have two good pass rushers with Justin Houston and Dee Ford, so Hali is basically expendable especially considering his cap hit. It would be great to see Hali finish his career with Kansas City, but they will likely have to release him since it would free up about $7.69 million in cap space. It will be painful for the Chiefs to release him considering what he has done for the franchise, although they need cap space desperately and Hali isn’t worth nearly the amount that he is currently getting paid.
Los Angeles Chargers – Brandon Mebane – Defensive Tackle
Brandon Mebane is 33 years old and he isn’t the quality starting defensive tackle that he once was with the Seahawks. He has never been much of a pass rusher, but now he isn’t even very good at stopping the run. The Chargers could keep him around as he provides some depth at defensive tackle. However, the Chargers can free up $4.5 million in cap space if they release Mebane this offseason. Los Angeles will likely look for a younger option at the position in the draft and let go of Mebane since he isn’t really worth his $5.5 million cap hit.
Los Angeles Rams – Tavon Austin – Wide Receiver
We all know that Tavon Austin has the potential to be a game-changer for the Rams, but the issue is that he isn’t consistent or reliable enough in their offense. He only had 13 receptions for only 47 yards and he wasn’t very helpful when running the ball either. Austin definitely isn’t worth the $8 million cap hit that he will have next season especially since the Rams have plenty of young talent at wide receiver. Austin’s role clearly is minimal for the Rams offense and the team would be wise to just get rid of him and clear up $3 million in cap space.
Miami Dolphins – Ja’Wuan James – Offensive Tackle
Ja’Wuan James has been a decent starting offensive tackle for the Dolphins, but in no way is he worth the $9.34 million that he is owed next season. James has dealt with injuries and he hasn’t been very productive even when he was healthy. The Dolphins can release him and clear up all of the cap space that he is owed, so unless he restructures his deal then it is very unlikely that he will back next season.
Minnesota Vikings – Jarius Wright – Wide Receiver
Jarius Wright has clearly fallen dramatically on the Vikings depth chart as he is only their 4th receiver at best heading into next season and he only had 18 catches this year for the team. The Vikings can find a much cheaper option as a 4th receiver than Wright who is owed $4.76 million next season. Minnesota can save $2.64 million in space by releasing Wright and it seems that’s what they’ll do considering he doesn’t have much of a role in Minnesota’s offense anymore.
New England Patriots – Martellus Bennett – Tight End
Martellus Bennett returned to New England late last season and he had a very minimal impact as he only had 6 catches in 2 games played for the Patriots. Bennett is due $6.1 million next season which is way too much to be paying a backup tight end. The Patriots could try to restructure his contract, but it is unlikely that he would be willing to take a steep pay cut. Either way, the Patriots can clear up $6.1 million in cap space if they release him which makes it very unlikely that he will return next season.
New Orleans Saints – Coby Fleener – Tight End
The Saints signed Coby Fleener to a huge 5-year/$36 million contract thinking that he would make a huge impact on their offense. However, Fleener has yet to do so as he only had 22 catches and 295 receiving yards last season. The Saints still owe him some guaranteed money so it will cost them $200,000 if they release him prior to June 1st. However, the team can free up $3 million in cap space if they release him after that date which seems likely considering his role has diminished in the Saints offense.
New York Giants – Eli Manning – Quarterback
It is very likely that the Giants will select a quarterback with the 2nd overall pick in the draft and that means that longtime starting quarterback Eli Manning might not even have a roster spot next season. Manning is clearly not the same player that he used to be as he is 37 years old and at the back end of his career. Also, Manning has a ridiculous $22.2 million cap hit just for next season and the Giants could clear up considerable cap space by releasing him. The question is whether the team will keep Manning around to mentor a young quarterback and be a short-term solution at the position. New York can clear up $9.8 million in cap space if they release Manning so it is unlikely that they keep him unless he is going to be the starter next season.
New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson – Defensive End
The Jets took a huge risk when they gave defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson a 5-year/$86 million contract after the 2015 season. However, the deal has ended up being a huge bust for the Jets as he only has 8 sacks combined the past 2 seasons for the team. Wilkerson has been a major issue for the team with his character concerns as he has been benched many times including the final 3 games of 2017 when he wasn’t even activated. Wilkerson is due $20 million next season and there is no possible way that the Jets will want to pay that. The Jets can save $11 million in cap space by releasing Wilkerson and it would be absolutely shocking if he returns to the team in 2018.
Oakland Raiders – Sean Smith – Cornerback
Sean Smith played better towards the end of last season, but he just isn’t worth the $8.5 million cap hit that he is due next season. The best part for the Raiders is that they can release him and owe him none of that money, therefore clearing up $8.5 million in cap space. Oakland has some major work to do at the cornerback position this offseason and it appears that Smith won’t be in their plans for the 2018 season.
Philadelphia Eagles – Torrey Smith – Wide Receiver
The Eagles gave Torrey Smith a decent contract last offseason hoping that he could revive his NFL career and be a contributor to the Eagles passing game. However, Smith was a disappointment as he only had 36 catches for 430 yards as he was clearly the 3rd option at wide receiver for the Eagles. The Eagles could choose to bring him back, but they could also free up $5 million in cap space by releasing him this offseason. Philadelphia can certainly find a better 3rd receiver and at a cheaper price than what was given to Smith.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Mike Mitchell – Safety
Mike Mitchell was the starting safety for a Steelers defense that really struggled last season even in the playoffs when they allowed 45 points to the Jaguars. Mitchell is certainly on the downside of his career at 30 years old and it is hard to justify the $8 million that he will be owed next season. Either way, the Steelers can upgrade at the safety position by getting rid of Mitchell and they can also clear up $5 million in cap space by releasing him.
San Francisco 49ers – Zane Beadles – Guard
Zane Beadles hasn’t been very effective in recent years and the 49ers could certainly use an upgrade over him at guard especially considering that he has a $4 million cap hit for next season. The 49ers not only need to replace him, but they also probably need to get rid of him. If the 49ers do decide to get rid of him then they could save $3.5 million in cap space.
Seattle Seahawks – Michael Bennett – Defensive End
Michael Bennett is still a very productive pass rusher as proven by his 8.5 sacks for the Seahawks last season. However, the Seahawks are in need of some cap space and Bennett’s contract is certainly an issue going forward. Bennett is due just over $7 million next season and the team could save $5.65 million in cap space if they let him go after June 1st. The Seahawks could choose to keep him considering his production is still good, but rumor has it that Seattle is trying to trade him away and they could just release him if they can’t find a team that will give up something for him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Doug Martin – Running Back
Doug Martin signed a 5-year/$35.75 million contract extension prior to the 2016 season, but since then he hasn’t produced at all for the Buccaneers. In fact, Doug Martin was given a 4-game PED suspension late in the 2016 season and he has struggled to stay healthy during that time. Even when he has been healthy, Martin has only averaged 2.9 yards per carry each of the past 2 seasons. Martin has been very inconsistent throughout his career as he had 2 seasons where he rushed for over 1400 yards. However, the other 4 seasons he hasn’t even reached the 500-yard mark. The Buccaneers need more consistency out of the running back position and the team can clear up $6.75 million by releasing him this offseason which is why he is highly unlikely to be back next season.
Tennessee Titans – DeMarco Murray – Running Back
DeMarco Murray had a down season in 2017 to say the least as he only ran for 659 yards and he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. Murray is still a good running back, but it seems that Derrick Henry has taken over as the number 1 running back in Tennessee. The Titans could still choose to keep Murray and have a dynamic duo along with Henry, but the issue is Murray is due $6.5 million next season. Tennessee will have to decide if Henry is ready to take on the full-time role and if he is ready for that role then the Titans could release Murray and save $6.5 million in cap space.
Washington Redskins – Rob Kelley – Running Back
Rob Kelley came out of nowhere to become the Redskins starting running back, but now he has clearly fallen down the depth chart as Chris Thompson and Semaji Perine are ahead of him. Kelley does have a really cheap contract as he is only due $468,000 in 2018, but he probably doesn’t want to be a 3rd-string back for the team. The Redskins could definitely choose to hold onto him since his contract is extremely cheap. However, Kelley doesn’t seem to have much of a role going forward and the Redskins could just release him and allow him a better opportunity elsewhere.