Predicting the Top Cap Casualties of the NFL's Offseason
The 2013 NFL offseason is in full swing, and like every offseason, NFL teams are going to look to free some cap space by cutting players with large contracts in preparation for free agency and the 2013 NFL draft.
Many different types of players become cap casualties each offseason for a variety of reasons. Some veterans are over-the-hill with a large cap number and find themselves a casualty.
Others cashed in on big contracts but did not perform up to expectations. Finally, some cap casualties are just let go because the franchise is suffering from years of horrendous financial decisions (looking at you, Oakland).
In the following slideshow we will break down the top cap casualty candidates and explain why each is deserving of being considered. There is, of course, the chance any and all of the candidates will simply restructure their deals to stay with their teams, but are deserving candidates nonetheless.
Let's take a moment to predict the top cap casualties of the 2013 NFL offseason.
Carson Palmer, Quarterback, Oakland Raiders
2013 Cap Hit: $15.3 million (h/t Spotrac)
Carson Palmer may have been one of the best players on the Oakland Raiders roster in 2012, but that is not saying much.
Palmer is due a ridiculous wad of cash in 2012 thanks to a deal the Cincinnati Bengals inked him to before ripping the Raiders off after he "retired."
Oakland is drowning under the weight of several horrendous financial decisions over the years. Keeping a quarterback who is only 8-16 over his last two seasons of play and was simply middle-of-the-pack in 2012 does not make sense for a rebuilding team.
According to Jason La Canfora, it is unlikely the Raiders will keep Palmer unless he restructures. If he refuses to do so, Palmer will hit the open market at 33 years old and pray a team takes a chance.
Michael Turner, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
2013 Cap Hit: $8.9 million (h/t Spotrac)
Michael Turner was anything but a "burner" in 2012 for the Atlanta Falcons, having clearly lost a step now that he is 31 years old.
According to Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, the Falcons are intent on letting go of Turner in the coming months and searching for a running back in the 2013 NFL draft.
It is a great move for the franchise considering the age and cap hit Turner represents. Most importantly, Turner was visibly not his former self in 2012, and the end result was just over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns while having his carries hawked by younger backs.
Turner is over-the-hill but could find a backup role on the open market. There is no chance of a restructured contract here, as the Falcons are intent on going a different direction by infusing more youth into the position.
Bart Scott, Linebacker, New York Jets
2013 Cap Hit: $8. 6million (h/t Spotrac)
Bart Scott is known as the loud-mouthed physical presence in the middle of the New York Jets defense, but has physically been unable to keep up with his jaw the past few seasons.
Scott does not have a chance to even sniff the salary he is due in 2013 thanks to his decline on the field and off-field battles with injuries. Most recently, Scott underwent surgery on his toe (h/t Newark Star-Ledger).
It sounds as if Scott is willing to take a pay cut to stay in New York (h/t New York Daily News), but that is unlikely as well given his decline. His best hope of being with the Jets in 2013 is signing a bargain-bin deal with the team again after his release.
For Scott, free agency is on the horizon, as is a massive pay cut.
Champ Bailey, Cornerback, Denver Broncos
2013 Cap Hit: $10.5 million (h/t Spotrac)
There was a time when Champ Bailey was the most feared cornerback in the NFL, but we have reached a point where Bailey is getting smoked in front of a national audience by the Baltimore Ravens' Torrey Smith during the playoffs.
Bailey is due a massive amount of money in 2013, a number that should be reserved for an elite player—something Bailey no longer happens to be. He recorded just two interceptions in 2012 and appeared a step too slow more often than not.
Mike Klis of the Denver Post insists that Bailey will be with Denver in 2013, but one has to wonder in what capacity. A move to safety could be in the cards, as could a massive pay cut.
The Denver Broncos are set on competing for a Super Bowl once more next season under the guidance of Peyton Manning, but it could be without Bailey.
Anquan Boldin, Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens
2013 Cap Hit: $7.5 million (h/t Spotrac)
Anquan Boldin was one of the heroes of the Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl championship last season, but he may lose his spot on the roster a few months later.
Moving on from Boldin makes sense. The Ravens are in serious cap purgatory, especially with Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco looking to cash in on a massive new deal with a team already struggling financially.
According to Erik Kuselias via Twitter, Boldin plans to retire if the Ravens decide to cut him. This also makes sense—it would allow Boldin to go out on top, and at 32 years old he may not have much left in the tank anyway.
Kuselias also says the Ravens are interested in giving him an extension that would reduce his cap hit over a number of years. In the end, Boldin's fate lies with the result of the Flacco contraction situation.
Charles Woodson, Safety, Green Bay Packers
2013 Cap Hit: $9.4 million (h/t Spotrac)
Charles Woodson is approaching the age of 37 and his play over the past few seasons has been average at best. According to ProFootballFocus, he ranked as the No. 37 overall safety in the NFL last season.
Woodson's agent sounds optimistic about his client's future in Green Bay (h/t Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), but the combination of his age and cap hit alone could put their future together in question.
After a move to safety because he simply was not fast enough anymore to keep up with the rest of the league, Woodson was mediocre at best. It may be time for the Packers to move in another direction in the secondary.
Woodson has had a historic NFL career, but even he would have to admit at this point that paying him anywhere in the neighborhood of $10 million is absurd and does more harm to the franchise than good.
Jay Ratliff, Defensive Tackle, Dallas Cowboys
2013 Cap Hit: $7 million (h/t Spotrac)
Jay Ratliff has a multitude of things working against him if he hopes to be a member of the Dallas Cowboys in 2013.
For one, the Cowboys are undergoing a switch to a 4-3 base defense (h/t Rotoworld). This has an outside chance of limiting Ratliff's effectiveness and may make it easier for the Cowboys to part ways with him and his large cap hit.
Ratliff also is not doing himself any favors off the field. He was busted for DUI at twice the legal limit and verbally abusive toward cops recently, and also had a public spat with owner Jerry Jones (h/t ESPN).
It looks like Ratliff's time in Dallas is ending. He might have been allowed to stay around on the chance he plays well in a 4-3, but being arrested for DUI (a very touchy subject with the Cowboys right now) and an altercation with the owner likely means he will be shown the door.
Eric Wright, Cornerback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2013 Cap Hit: $7.75 million (h/t Spotrac)
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the Buccaneers are set to part ways with cornerback Eric Wright this offseason.
It is not a shocking development for a few reasons. For one, Wright had an outstanding 2011 campaign but followed it up last year with a miserable performance. This parlays into him being worth no where near what he is due in 2013.
ProFootballFocus ranked Wright as the No. 66 overall corner in the NFL last year, and gave him negative grades in all the important categories such as coverage and defending the run.
Not only did Wright's play drop off last season, he was suspended for violating the league's PED policy (h/t Buccaneers.com). A decline in play and a suspension are not the way to impress your employer, and Wright is as good as gone in Tampa Bay.
Alex Smith, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
2013 Cap Hit: $9.7 million (h/t Spotrac)
Alex Smith has to be feeling quite unwanted in the NFL right now. He lost his job midseason to Colin Kaepernick, but what had to sting even more was his flirtation with free agency in 2012 when only the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers were interested in him—after failing to land other quarterbacks.
According to Rotoworld, there is no trade market for Smith. The teams that may want him can simply not afford his massive contract, and other quarterback-needy teams are more content to find a young, franchise quarterback—even if Smith hits the open market.
In all likelihood, Smith is going to end up cut as the 49ers have no reason to pay a backup quarterback almost $10 million.
If and when Smith hits the open market, it does not exactly sound like he has many suitors lining up, either.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles
2013 Cap Hit: $15 million (h/t Spotrac)
It seems like a long time ago that Nnamdi Asomugha was widely considered a top-flight cornerback in the NFL. Ever since joining the Philadelphia Eagles, he has been nothing but a dud.
According to ProFootballFocus, Aso came in as the No. 101 overall cornerback in 2012, doing just about anything you can name wrong. The site only ranked 113 players at the position.
Does that sound like a player worth a $15 million paycheck over the course of 16 games?
Some folks around the league have called Aso an intriguing free agent (h/t SI), despite the fact he is still under contract with the Eagles. It just goes to show that Aso is widely thought around NFL circles to already be gone in Philadelphia. When it is made official remains to be seen.
Matt Flynn, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
2013 Cap Hit: $7.2 million (h/t Spotrac)
Matt Flynn of the Seattle Seahawks has a well-known story. He trained under Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay for years before signing his big-money deal with the Seahawks and went on to be the starter.
Actually, Flynn lost his job to a third-round rookie named Russell Wilson before the 2012 season even began. He is due in the neighborhood of $7 million in 2013—not a bad chunk of change to ride the pine.
According to Jason Cole via Twitter, Flynn is going to end up cut. NFL teams are not going to send the Seahawks draft picks for him when it is so painfully obvious the team is going to cut him.
Let the wait begin.
Jermichael Finley, Tight End, Green Bay Packers
2013 Cap Hit: $8.7 million (h/t Spotrac)
It is hard to love anything Jermichael Finley did in 2012 for the Green Bay Packers. Now comes the time for the Packers to decide if he can actually improve and be worth his ridiculous contract.
Finley only mustered over 600 yards and two touchdowns on the year, a pathetic excuse of a stat line considering his plays in a pass-happy offense under the direction of Aaron Rodgers.
Those odds must sound familiar to anyone who watched Finely play a season ago, because those were the odds he actually caught the ball when it was thrown his way.
Dunta Robinson, Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons
2013 Cap Hit: $9 million (h/t Spotrac)
Dunta Robinson had what some would classify as a down year in 2012, but that may be a bit too kind.
Robinson ranked as the No. 47 overall corner in ProFootballFocus' ranking, with particularly bad numbers in the coverage department.
For a man due to make around $9 million, that is simply unacceptable.
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter, Robinson is a restructure candidate for the Falcons, but that seems unlikely with the outstanding play of Asante Samuel and the imminent return of the once-elite Brent Grimes.
Robinson has nowhere to go and looks to be cut thanks to his being pushed aside by better players and insane cap number.
DeAngelo Williams, Running Back, Carolina Panthers
2013 Cap Hit: $8.2 million (h/t Spotrac)
DeAngelo Williams may find himself a victim of the cap-casualty movement this offseason simply because of the large amount of money headed his way.
It also does not look good for Williams based on the number of capable backs already at the position and the numbers they themselves have for 2013. Jonathan Stewart, Mike Tolbert and Co. are productive, younger and tie up some decent cap space as well.
That said, Williams did not have a horrible 2012 campaign. He rushed for over 700 yards and five scores as a rotational piece in the backfield.
According to the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers may want to let go of Williams now because he has $9.6 million left in prorated signing bonus money that would apply to 2013.
Williams could be a victim of his contract, but could find some nice money elsewhere in the league.
James Harrison, Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
2013 Cap Hit: $10 million (h/t Spotrac)
James Harrison is about to turn 35 years old and has battled a plethora of injuries over the course of his career that are beginning to add up. Add in a massive cap hit, and it is easy to see why he may not make the roster next season.
Harrison was not horrible when on the field in 2012, as detailed by his top 10 rating by ProFootballFocus when examining the entire 2012 season.
The issue lies in his battles with a knee injury and double-digit concussions (h/t Rotoworld). It also goes without saying that the Steelers are attempting to get younger and have already poured a vast amount of cash into the position with players such as Lawrence Timmons.
Harrison's best days are behind him, as is his ability to play a full season at full strength. Do not be shocked when the Steelers cut him sometime this offseason.