In our previous post, we highlighted young stars entering their prime years and poised to land lucrative second contracts. At the other end of the spectrum, Joel Corry of National Football Post spotlighted five veterans who could be asked to take a pay cut:
- Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey – Will be 36 next season after playing just five regular season contests in 2013 (foot injury). Simply put, Bailey’s cost to the team is not commensurate with his diminished skills, as he’s scheduled to count $10.5MM against the cap next year.
- Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware – Dallas’ cap woes were detailed last week. At the top of the “To Do” list is Ware, who carries a $16MM cap number as a result of three restructurings. Bothered by an elbow injury which necessitated off-season surgery, Ware managed just six sacks in 2013. Corry says Ware has indicated he’s willing to go down that road again, “but a pay cut is a different story.” If the Cowboys release Ware, the team stands to gain approximately $7.4MM of cap room.
- 49ers running back Frank Gore – Not unlike catchers in baseball, running backs trend downward beyond age 30. Gore will be 31 in 2014 when he’s scheduled to count $6.45MM against the cap, though he’s considered an “old” 31 given his career workload and injury history. With a strong offensive line and dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick entering his prime, it’s reasonable to think Gore’s production could be had for cheaper, be it in the form of Gore himself at a reduced rate or perhaps 2013 “redshirt” Marcus Lattimore, who is waiting in the wings.
- Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu – The soon-to-be 33-year-old has the NFL’s highest 2014 cap number among safeties (approximately $10.9MM), but Polamalu’s play has fallen off to the point where his reputation exceeds his performance. According to Corry, “A pay cut could be folded into an extension that lowers Polamalu’s cap number and ensures that he never plays with another NFL team.”
- Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork – Corry describes the veteran Wilfork’s situation as “precarious” because the final year of his five-year deal weighs $11.6MM against the cap. That number ranks second-highest on the roster behind Tom Brady, and the team has just under $3.9MM of cap room at present time. Wilfork has been a rock, but the Pats cannot afford to devote nine percent of the cap to a 32-year-old run stuffer coming off a torn Achilles tendon injury, especially with the team attempting to re-sign Aqib Talib.