As teams prepare their free agency budgets, several marquee players will be notified soon they will be cap casualties. Brian Cushing was one of the first to find out in 2018. But Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com expects some key members of NFC teams to be jettisoned soon. The Packers are likely to keep one of the Jordy Nelson/Randall Cobb tandem, but Rosenthal does not expect both to return. Not after Davante Adams signed for $14MM AAV. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com noted this week Cobb is more likely to be shown the door than Nelson, who has been Aaron Rodgers‘ favorite target for years. A Cobb cut would save the Packers $9.5MM in dead money. Nelson would create $10.2MM in space if released. The duo count as the Nos. 2-3 players on Green Bay’s 2018 cap sheet.
The Panthers have used either DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart, or a combination of both, as their top ground producer since the 2007 season. But Rosenthal expects Stewart to be cut along with Charles Johnson. A Stewart cut would create $3.7MM in cap space while tagging Carolina with $1.5MM in dead money. He will turn 31 next month. This would create a void at running back, with Christian McCaffrey more of a pass-catching hybrid type, but Stewart’s yards-per-carry average dropped to a career-low 3.4 last season. Although, his 15 games of work were his most since the 2011 slate.
Here’s the latest from around the league:
- Though the Broncos have Matt Paradis and Shaquil Barrett as impending RFAs, they don’t have many high-profile UFAs. Todd Davis profiles as a player who will generate interest on the open market after garnering some as an RFA last year, and Mike Klis of 9News notes the Broncos would like to have their two-year inside linebacker starter back. But the player that might be more likely to return and complement Brandon Marshall in 2018 is Corey Nelson. A four-year backup who started six games in 2016, Nelson is the free agent the Broncos would most like to bring back, Klis writes, adding the former seventh-round pick may receive some heavy Broncos interest during the legal tampering period that begins March 12.
- Virgil Green and Cody Latimer saw their Denver deals expire, and Green would like to stay on a third contract. A member of every John Elway-era Broncos team, the eighth-year player has functioned as a blocking tight end for most of his Broncos tenure. Green signed a three-year, $12MM deal to stay in Denver in 2015 when many of his 2011 draft class mates departed, but with a Kirk Cousins push coming, the Broncos may not have much money to spend to retain him. Latimer did not develop into what the Broncos hoped as a second-round pick but became a dependable special teams player. Klis writes the Broncos will consider re-signing him if his market doesn’t develop.
- Oklahoma State wide receiver Marcell Ateman has impressed the 49ers, among other teams, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com reports. Ateman has been working with former 200- and 400-meter world-record holder Michael Johnson in developing for the draft and is viewed as a Day 2 prospect, but Pauline writes his stock figures to rise based on the speed and vertical numbers he’s been posting. Ateman broke out for 59 receptions, 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior.