Most clubs have fairly set rosters at this point, as OTA, minicamp, and preseason performances won’t do much to alter roster composition. The majority of key releases came in March, but there are still several scenarios where certain contributors could lose their roster spot in the coming months. For the most part, we’ll focus on situations where the cap savings would be in excess of $1MM.
Because free agency has already passed, financial ramifications won’t play a huge role in these decisions; there aren’t a ton of high-profile free agents on which to spend that saved money, so these calls will mostly be made based on performance. However, any cap space saved through these potential releases could be rolled over into 2016, so that’s something clubs have to consider.
After looking at the AFC East yesterday, let’s dive into the NFC East…
- Mackenzy Bernadeau, G: The 29-year-old Bernadeau renegotiated his contract last spring, accepting a $2.9MM pay cut in the process. After Dallas selected Zack Martin in last year’s draft, Bernadeau went on to act in a reserve role, and saw only 75 snaps. Now that undrafted free agent La’El Collins is penciled in as the starting left guard, incumbent Ronald Leary will be demoted to act as the top reserve interior lineman, further limiting Bernadeau’s role. The Cowboys could save $1.5MM by releasing him, but I think they’ll keep him around for depth purposes. Prediction: not released.
- Brandon Carr, CB: It’s been a strange offseason for the Cowboys and Carr, as he indicated in March that he would not accept a pay cut, a stance that Dallas has seemingly accepted. However, owner Jerry Jones has continued to say that the club wants to lower Carr’s cap number (presumably through an extension), but given Carr’s subpar play, I’m not sure tacking on extra years to his deal would be wise. The Cowboys have decent cornerback depth after drafting Byron Jones in the first round, but Jerry Jones has been adamant that the team won’t release Carr. Prediction: not released.
New York Giants:
- Jameel McClain, LB: Entering the final season of a two-year deal, McClain could be on the chopping block due to both his salary and his performance. The 29-year-old actually played the second-most snaps among Giants defenders, but graded in the bottom 10 among inside linebackers league-wide, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Additionally, he’s scheduled to count for $3.4MM on New York’s cap in 2015; the club could clear all but $300K of that total by releasing him. The Giants are near the bottom of the NFL in terms of cap space, and they might want a little extra room to make moves throughout the season, so creating a little space here and there through moves like cutting McClain could be in the making. Prediction: released.
- Linebacker Jon Beason and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins each agreed to contract restructures both involved straight pay cuts) earlier this year, or else they likely would have been released.
- Riley Cooper, WR: The Eagles don’t have a ton of obvious cut candidates, and Cooper is the only veteran whose roster spot might come into question. (I thought about adding fellow pass-catcher Miles Austin here, but the club handed him $1MM in guarantees, so he’s probably a good bet to make the final 53.) Cooper took a big step back from his excellent 2014 season, as his yards per reception dropped from 17.8 to 10.5. He doesn’t figure to be a big part of Philadelphia’s offense, but given that the team would incur $3.8MM in dead money (as opposed to just $1MM in savings) by releasing him, Cooper will probably stick around for one more season. Prediction: not released.
- DeAngelo Hall: Hall agreed to tweak his contact earlier this year, eliminating the $1MM in salary guarantees he was originally due. He can still earn the same $4MM base salary that he was originally due, but Washington is now off the hook if they decide Hall isn’t not fully recovered from two Achilles tears. Washington has decent corner depth following the signing of Chris Cullier, so Hall isn’t necessarily needed. But the club would save only $2.375MM while incurring $2.438MM in dead money by cutting Hall. Prediction: not released.
- Pierre Garcon, WR: Garcon’s rate stats stayed similar from 2013 to 2014, but his counting stats took a nosedive following the addition of DeSean Jackson. Still, he’s probably not in any real danger of being released — head coach Jay Gruden has been adamant that Garcon is in the club’s plans, and as of February the team hadn’t reached out to his representatives about restructuring his contract. Washington could save $7.5MM by releasing Garcon, however, so I’m guessing it’s a move that has at least been discussed internally. Prediction: not released.
- Kedric Golston, DE: The 32-year-old Golston didn’t play much last season (182 snaps), but still managed to rack up poor -14.3 grade from PFF. The addition of Ricky Jean-Francois means that Golston will see even less time in 2015, and there’s really no reason for the club to pay his $1MM base salary; Washington can save $1.075MM by cutting him. Prediction: released.