On Christmas Eve, Joel Corry of CBS Sports took a look at a few NFL teams who have the worst salary cap situations going into 2015. He picked out the five organizations stuck deepest in salary cap hell:
- New Orleans Saints – $23.07MM over the cap
- Arizona Cardinals – $6.44MM
- Pittsburgh Steelers – $2.901MM
- New England Patriots – $1.945MM
- San Francisco 49ers – $928,000
Here are some of the highlights of actions Corry suggests that would help them get under the cap in order to have a successful offseason:
- Pass rusher Junior Galette could see his contract restructured to open up $10MM, despite signing the extension this past offseason.
- Another contract doled off last offseason that can be restructured is of prized free agent Jairus Byrd, which could open up $5.6MM in cap space.
- A third contract from last offseason that can be restructured is that of tight end Jimmy Graham. That move could save $4.77MM in cap space.
- Both of their Pro Bowl guards are suddenly highly paid luxuries as they have seen their performance drop, and Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs are candidates for release. If cut, they will free up $6.6MM and $3.6MM, respectively.
- Veteran receiver Marques Colston holds a $9.7MM cap number, and has seen a sharp decline in his play. It will be a tougher cut, but is a candidate to be released.
- The team could restructure Drew Brees‘ contract again, although they will only push their cap problems into the future in exchange for immediate relief.
- Releasing linebacker David Hawthorne will free up $2.99MM in cap space if he is released before his $2.5MM roster bonus on the third day of the 2015 league year.
- If the team is not going to release Larry Fitzgerald, it could hope that he takes a modest pay cut. A deal that would see him reduce his salary to $10MM per season would create enormous cap relief.
- Daryl Washington has not seen the field during his suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and he could be a cap casualty this offseason.
- Carson Palmer‘s recent extension could be restructured despite him being out with injury, freeing up to $7.125MM in cap space.
- The team may have to pass on retaining Antonio Cromartie, despite getting a very good year from the cornerback on a one-year deal.
- Ben Roethlisberger is in line for a new deal to keep him steady as the team’s franchise quarterback, but signing a new deal would likely bring less than $5MM in cap room.
- Longtime Steeler and likely Hall of Fame safety Troy Polamalu may be a cap casualty if he does not retire, which would save the team $3.7MM in cap space.
- Corry writes that is unusual for a team to admit a mistake so quickly, but Cortez Allen was terrible after receiving his extension in September. The team could open up a little cap space by releasing him after one season.
- The team is unlikely to place the transition tag on Jason Worilds again, and could mitigate the loss of the outside linebacker if James Harrison suits up for another season with the team.
- The obvious move for the Patriots would be signing Darrelle Revis to a long-term deal, which would create substantial cap space. The team is unlikely to keep him in 2015 at his current number. They will open $20MM in cap space if they do not keep him on the roster.
- The Patriots could open up $4MM in cap space by restructuring Tom Brady‘s contract.
- The team will likely ask linebacker Jerod Mayo to take a pay cut, or they may release him. Corry writes that his $4.5MM injury guarantee will be the only thing that potentially saves him from being released.
- Danny Amendola will be expendable, and cutting him will free up $2.1MM in cap room or $4.5MM if he is designated a post June 1st cut.
- Vince Wilfork could also become a cap casualty, as the team will have to decide whether to guarantee his contract for 2015 and 2016. Releasing him will free up $7.566MM in cap room.
- The team could also recoup some money from Aaron Hernandez‘ signing bonus if the grievance ruling comes back favorable for the Patriots.
- The 49ers could restructure Colin Kaepernick‘s contract to lower his 2015 cap number.
- Linebacker Ahmad Brooks may be released, freeing up a little over $4MM in cap room.
- Another staple of the team, Vernon Davis, could be released as performance has dropped. The team would gain $4.95MM from releasing him.
- If Aldon Smith‘s off-field troubles are too much for the 49ers, the team could decline his 2015 option and pick up $9.754MM in cap space.
- The team could pass on re-signing Michael Crabtree, and will likely cut Stevie Johnson and save just over $6MM unless they lose Crabtree and replace him with Johnson.
- The team will most likely not seek to bring Frank Gore back to the team, unless it is at an extremely reasonable number.