The Best Player Who Could Be Cut from Every NFL Roster in 2020 Offseason
The majority of free agency and the draft may be over, but the NFL will continue to conduct business as usual with more than a few veterans still on the bubble.
With the new collective bargaining agreement now in place, June 1 designations are back on the table after they weren't going to be available if the league played the upcoming season under the old setup. These cuts allow teams to push some of the dead money from a player's contract onto the 2021 salary cap instead of taking the full brunt of it this year.
Furthermore, some individuals are simply in bad situations where teams can release them and save significant amounts toward the '20 salary cap. Or, they're not good fits at their current stops. Or, they have potential replacements lined up at their respective positions.
Keep in mind, these are the best players from each team who could be cut. Those listed are far from foregone conclusions. However, they're positioned in a way that it may make sense for those squads to move on.
Arizona Cardinals: LB Haason Reddick
Sooner or later, Haason Reddick won't be a member of the Arizona Cardinals. His tenure with the team has been disappointing after he became the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.
On top of that, the Cardinals signed linebackers Devon Kennard and De'Vondre Campbell in free agency and then drafted Isaiah Simmons with this year's eight overall pick.
Actions speak loudly, and they're screaming when it comes to Reddick's future. The Cardinals may not save much by moving on from this first-round bust, but there's no reason to keep him if he's not in their plans.
Atlanta Falcons: C Alex Mack
Alex Mack is an ideal example of a player who still performs at a high level, but he's long in the tooth and the organization may decide to move on from a rather ample contract.
Mack, who turns 35 during the 2020 campaign, carries a $10.6 million salary-cap hit into the final year of his deal. The Atlanta Falcons can save $8 million with his release, which is significant since they are barely under this year's salary cap.
Obviously, the Falcons can't cut Mack without having a replacement plan. However, general manager Thomas Dimitroff planned for the six-time Pro Bowler's eventual departure by drafting Temple center Matt Hennessy in this year's third round.
Hennessy is an ideal fit for Atlanta's wide-zone scheme. With him snapping the ball, the Falcons' offensive line overhaul would be complete.
Baltimore Ravens: NT Brandon Williams
The Baltimore Ravens built a formidable defensive front even though Michael Brockers' free-agent deal wasn't completed.
Instead, the franchise added Derek Wolfe to play alongside Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams.
As a whole, the organization has done well by investing long-term deals in the right players. Williams' standing is quite intriguing, because he's one of six Ravens whose salary-cap hit exceeds $10 million this season, but he's the only one the team can cut to get some relief.
Baltimore saves $4.3 million if cuts the 31-year-old nose tackle.
But this isn't just about financial gain. Daylon Mack and Broderick Washington, fifth-round picks over the last two drafts, are in place if the front office feels Williams' performance no longer matches his compensation.
Buffalo Bills: DE Trent Murphy
The Buffalo Bills made their pass rush a priority this offseason after the defense's top two sack-artists from last season, Jordan Phillips and Shaq Lawson, left in free agency.
In return, the organization signed Mario Addison and Quinton Jefferson. The front office then doubled up by selecting Iowa's A.J. Epenesa in this year's second round.
Jerry Hughes, Addison, Epenesa and Jefferson, who can play both base end and defensive tackle, form a solid quartet that possibly leaves Trent Murphy out of the mix.
Murphy signed a three-year, $22.5 million deal with the Bills prior to the 2018 campaign. He produced nine sacks in two seasons, yet his contract increases this fall with a $9.8 million salary-cap hit. The Bills can save $8 million by cutting the 29-year-old defensive end.
Carolina Panthers: DT Kawann Short
The question isn't if the Carolina Panthers will release Kawann Short, but when.
Short signed a five-year, $80.5 million contract prior to the 2017 campaign. At the time, he was one of the league's most disruptive defensive tackles.
Now, he's 31 years old and coming off an injury-shortened campaign due to a partially torn rotator cuff. The seven-year veteran played in only two games last season, yet he holds a $19.5 million salary-cap fit this fall.
If the Panthers front office designates Short as a June 1 cut, the contract becomes manageable. The team will save $27.6 million over the next two seasons by doing so. Yes, his dead money will still extend into the 2022 and '23 campaign, but it combines for less than $5 million.
Considering Carolina's defensive overhaul, Short's departure seems inevitable.
Chicago Bears: TE Adam Shaheen
The Chicago Bears have a plan, and it doesn't seem to include tight end Adam Shaheen.
"You guys know how important the tight end position is in this offense and it's something that we stressed going into this offseason," general manager Ryan Pace told reporters. "It's something we really wanted to improve."
Pace responded by signing Jimmy Graham. Graham will be the NFL's fifth-highest-paid tight end in total cash spent this fall. The Bears added Demetrius Harris as well before choosing Notre Dame's Cole Kmet with the their initial draft pick (43rd overall).
With those three additions, Shaheen's status seems tenuous at best. The 2017 second-round pick has yet to play a full 16-game slate or provide more than 12 receptions for 127 yards in any campaign.
Cincinnati Bengals: S Shawn Williams
Shawn Williams led the Cincinnati Bengals with 114 tackles last season. He could easily be off the team less than a year later.
The Bengals decided to revamp their defense with the free-agent additions of defensive tackle D.J. Reader, safety Vonn Bell and cornerbacks Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander after last year's dismal campaign.
Bell expects to take over for Williams at strong safety, but the 28-year-old veteran has experience playing sub-package linebacker. A full-time transition doesn't appear likely since Cincinnati's front office already signed Josh Bynes and drafted Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Markus Bailey in this year's third, fourth and seventh rounds, respectively.
Williams is a veteran leader and reliable defender, but the Bengals added talent to every level and can save over $4 million by releasing last year's leading tackler.
Cleveland Browns: DE Olivier Vernon
The Cleveland Browns showed interest in Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffen this offseason. ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported on SportsCenter the organization got close to a deal with Clowney, while CBS Sports' Cody Benjamin added the Browns were a "likely suitor" for Griffen.
Both free agents remain available.
But their inclusion will almost certainly come at the expense of current defensive end Olivier Vernon. While the Browns can afford both Vernon and another addition, it's hard to envision the team retaining its current bookend to Myles Garrett when he's scheduled to make $15.5 million this season, especially since the eight-year veteran can be released without creating any dead money.
Cleveland doesn't have to move on from the 29-year-old edge-rusher since he remains a quality performer when healthy. However, the chance to potentially upgrade the position may be too enticing.
Dallas Cowboys: DE Tyrone Crawford
Tyrone Crawford turns 31 later this year; he's coming off a season-ending hip surgery; and he has the seventh-highest salary-cap hit for the 2020 campaign on the Dallas Cowboys roster.
Crawford, who has never produced more than 5.5 sacks in any season, currently counts for $9.1 million toward the Cowboys' cap. However, his $8 million base salary would be expunged if he's cut.
Dallas has invested greatly in its defensive front. Granted, some of those recent additions, Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory, are or could be back from suspension. But the front office also drafted Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson and Bradlee Anae over the last three years to join Demarcus Lawrence as part of the defensive end rotation.
The Cowboys have also revamped the defensive tackle position by adding Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe and Neville Gallimore.
Denver Broncos: TE Jeff Heuerman
Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman started 21 games over the last two seasons. Heuerman produced just 45 catches for 395 yards during that span.
The organization invested heavily in the position this offseason—a year after spending a first-round pick on Noah Fant.
Nick Vannett comes in after signing a two-year, $5.7 million free-agent deal to serve as the offense's in-line option, while general manager John Elway added another explosive receiving threat when he drafted Missouri's Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round to join his former collegiate quarterback Drew Lock in the Mile High City.
The team, meanwhile, can save nearly $3.9 million against the 2020 salary cap with Heuerman's release.
Detroit Lions: LB Jarrad Davis
Some first-round picks won't work out. That's the reality of the NFL draft. Despite all of the hope surrounding these talented individuals every spring, a significant portion will bust.
Jarrad Davis hasn't developed into the defensive field general the Detroit Lions wanted when they chose the linebacker with the 21st overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Instead, his first three seasons have been marred by injuries and inconsistency.
As a result, the organization did not pick up Davis' rookie fifth-year option, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
The Lions can save nearly $2 million with Davis' release. They can then rely heavily on free-agent additions Jamie Collins Sr. and Reggie Ragland to go along with Christian Jones, Jahlani Tavai and Jalen Reeves-Maybin.
Green Bay Packers: RB Jamaal Williams
The Green Bay Packers laid out part of the vision for their offense when they passed on drafting a wide receiver. Instead, general manager Brian Gutekunst invested a second-round pick in Boston College running back A.J. Dillon.
"Matt [LaFleur] really wants to tie everything to the run game and off the run game, and these guys will help us do that," Gutekunst told reporters.
With Aaron Jones already on the roster, Dillon's addition puts the squad's other running backs, particularly Jamaal Williams, on notice. Williams is a powerful between-the-tackles complement to Jones. Now, Dillon can fill that role.
As such, Williams' skill set is redundant. The Packers can shave another $2.1 million off their 2020 salary cap by moving on from last year's second-leading rusher.
Houston Texans: CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Vernon Hargreaves III re-signed with Houston Texans this offseason. But the deal doesn't guarantee his standing with the team.
The 2016 11th overall pick agreed to a one-year, $1.3 million contract, which doesn't include any dead money if the Texans decide to release the defensive back.
Despite Hargreaves' return, the organization signed Eric Murray in free agency and drafted John Reid in the fourth round. Murray is a converted cornerback who does his best work over the slot, while Reid projects as a top-notch nickel corner.
Last season, Hargreaves spent the majority of his time covering the slot. Now, there's a logjam at the position with Bradley Roby, Gareon Conley and Lonnie Johnson Jr. handling outside duties.
Indianapolis Colts: QB Jacoby Brissett
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett didn't play well enough for the Indianapolis Colts to believe he's their future.
So the organization signed the 38-year-old Philip Rivers to lead the offense. General manager Chris Ballard also drafted Jacob Eason in the fourth round as a developmental project and to have a QB on the roster beyond the upcoming season.
Brissett is entering the last year of a two-year extension, and his play didn't warrant his upcoming compensation. His salary-cap hit in 2020 is a staggering $21.4 million.
No team has more financially invested in its quarterbacks this fall. But the Colts can recoup nearly $9 million by cutting Brissett. A rookie behind Rivers is a scary proposition, but the 16-year veteran has never missed a start.
Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette
The Jacksonville Jaguars continue to work their way through an "organizational retool," as a team source told NFL.com's Michael Silver.
A retooling is less of a full-on rebuild and more a culture change.
As such, the Jaguars traded Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Calais Campbell and Nick Foles. Leonard Fournette's departure is likely next on the docket after general manager David Caldwell shopped the 2017 fourth overall pick but found no takers.
Fournette is an outstanding back, even if he's a throwback. He finished among the top seven overall last season in rushing yardage (1,152) and yards from scrimmage (1,674). But the Associated Press' Mark Long tweeted Jacksonville coaches "pretty much hate the guy."
The Jaguars can outright cut the 25-year-old runner and recoup $4.2 million in salary-cap space.
Kansas City Chiefs: RB Damien Williams
The Kansas City Chiefs selected a running back in this year's first round even though significant investments in the position tend to draw negative reviews.
However, they saw something in LSU's Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
"I always worry about the complexity of our offense and just about how long it will take guys, when the coaches feel comfortable, but everyone that you talk to at LSU, they rave about his football character and his football IQ," general manager Brett Veach told reporters. "And then when you throw in the talent that he has with that, we think he can come in right away and be a big factor in this offense."
Edwards-Helaire's potential to become an instant-impact rookie doesn't bode well for last year's leading rusher, Damien Williams. Kansas City has plenty of backfield depth and can save over $2 million with Williams' release.
Las Vegas Raiders: OG Gabe Jackson
Gabe Jackson has been a steady interior blocker for the Raiders since they chose him with a third-round pick in the 2014 draft. But they are readying for a change.
They placed Jackson, who started 83 games in six seasons, on the trade block prior to this year's draft, according to NFL Network's Michael Silver. The 335-pound guard didn't have any suitors for two obvious reasons.
First, other franchises understand the Raiders can cut Jackson and save $9.6 million outright. When an established veteran is a likely release candidate, organizations are willing to wait.
Second, his release became likelier once Las Vegas chose Clemson's John Simpson in the fourth round. Simpson is a potential plug-and-play prospect. The Raiders have veterans Denzelle Good, Jordan Devey and Eric Kush on the roster if the rookie isn't ready.
Los Angeles Chargers: LB Denzel Perryman
A year ago, Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Denzel Perryman signed a new two-year, $12 million contract extension. Now, his standing with the franchise isn't certain.
Perryman's situation hits the trifecta when it comes to potential release candidates.
First, he dealt with knee injuries over the last two seasons. Second, the organization invested in his position with the free-agent acquisition of Nick Vigil and the first-round selection of Kenneth Murray Jr., whom the franchise traded back into the first round to obtain. Finally, the Chargers can save salary-cap space with the veteran's release, though the number is just over $1 million.
Clearly, the front office felt it needed to make a move and land Murray to man the middle of the defense, which could force Perryman off the team altogether.
Los Angeles Rams: CB Troy Hill
The Los Angeles Rams released Todd Gurley and Clay Matthews III, traded Brandin Cooks and allowed Dante Fowler Jr., Cory Littleton, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Greg Zuerlein to leave in free agency. Yet the organization is barely under the 2020 salary cap.
There aren't a lot of options to create more wiggle room, though Troy Hill's contract provides a possibility. The Rams would save about $4 million in cap space if they cut Hill.
They could move forward with David Long Jr., whom general manager Les Snead drafted in last year's third round, in the starting lineup. This possibility became more plausible after the front office chose Terrell Burgess. This year's third-round selection is listed as a safety but primarily covered the slot at Utah.
Miami Dolphins: LB Raekwon McMillan
Albert Wilson was the obvious choice here, but the wide receiver agreed to a renegotiated deal on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Field Yates.
The Miami Dolphins have a surplus of linebackers after the offseason acquisitions of Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill.
They clearly made the defense a priority after allowing a league-worst 30.9 points per game last year.
Extra bodies could leave an odd man out, with linebacker being an obvious spot. Roberts can step right in as the middle linebacker and supplant Raekwon McMillan thanks to the four-year veteran's familiarity with the system.
McMillan started strongly last year but fell off as the campaign progressed before finding himself on injured reserve with a balky hamstring. His release would save the Dolphins $1.1 million on their 2020 salary cap.
Minnesota Vikings: OT Riley Reiff
The thought of Riley Reiff losing his job at left tackle lingers, especially after the Minnesota Vikings drafted Boise State's Ezra Cleveland in this year's second round.
A year ago, head coach Mike Zimmer considered the possibility of moving Reiff from tackle to guard, per The Athletic's Chad Graff.
Cleveland's presence might lead to a change. The two-time first-team All-Mountain West performer is an ideal fit in Gary Kubiak's wide-zone offensive scheme. If the rookie shows he's capable of taking over Kirk Cousins' blind side, Reiff may finally move to guard or be off the team altogether, depending on Pat Elflein's progression.
Financially, the Vikings can save $8.8 million if they're comfortable with a younger and more athletic left side of the offensive line.
New England Patriots: LB Dont'a Hightower
Bill Belichick is well known for moving on from a veteran a year too soon rather than a year too late.
The New England Patriots could follow that trend with linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who turned 30 earlier this spring. The two-time Pro Bowl defender is in the last year of his contract with a $12.45 million salary-cap hit.
The team can save $9.95 million with Hightower's release.
New England sits in a difficult position. The team can remain competitive even after Tom Brady's departure, but it has little financial flexibility. Furthermore, it drafted Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings, both of whom are possible replacements for Hightower. Adrian Phillips and second-round rookie Kyle Dugger have the potential to be sub-package linebackers, as well.
If Belichick decides to cut Hightower, the move shouldn't come as a surprise.
New Orleans Saints: OG Larry Warford
Since Drew Brees became the team's quarterback, the New Orleans Saints have invested more along their offensive interior than any other franchise.
Case in point, general manager Mickey Loomis chose Michigan's Cesar Ruiz with the 24th overall draft pick despite having Erik McCoy, Larry Warford and Andrus Peat as established starters.
"Obviously we think one of them [Ruiz or McCoy] is going to be a guard because we weren't drafting someone that high to come in and be a backup," head coach Sean Payton told reporters.
Since Peat signed a new five-year, $57.5 million deal this offseason, Warford and his $12.88 million salary-cap hit won't be with the franchise for long. Either the seven-year veteran will be traded or the Saints will release their right guard to save $7.75 million.
New York Giants: C Spencer Pulley
Shane Lemieux played guard for the Oregon Ducks, but the fifth-round rookie will get a long look at center as part of the New York Giants.
"He's a guy that's going to have interior swing value," Giants head coach Joe Judge said, per NJ.com's Matt Lombardo. "We're going to cross-train him guard and center. It's going to be something he has been working on out at Oregon and we're going to keep on building with that as well."
Lemieux started 52 consecutive guards at left guard for the Ducks, so a transition to center isn't automatic.
Pulley signed a three-year, $8 million contract prior to the 2019 campaign but lost the job to Jon Halapio. Now, he could lose the job to Lemieux. The 27-year-old veteran can continue on as a utility lineman, but the Giants can probably get another individual to fill that role and save $2.75 million with Pulley's release.
New York Jets: LB Avery Williamson
Avery Williamson didn't play a down for the New York Jets last season after tearing his ACL.
With one of the team's starting linebackers out of the mix, rookie Blake Cashman stepped in before his own season ended on injured reserve. Neville Hewitt found himself in the starting lineup for the majority of the 2019 campaign. James Burgess started 10 games as the injuries piled up, including to C.J. Mosley, who suffered a groin injury and played in only two contests.
All five of those second-line defenders return this season. Also, general manager Joe Douglas signed Patrick Onwuasor during free agency.
The Jets likely won't keep two hefty contracts among their off-ball linebackers. Mosley's deal will be quite difficult to move, but New York can release Williamson and save $6.5 million.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR Alshon Jeffery
Wide receiver became an offseason concern for the Philadelphia Eagles more because of unwieldy veteran contracts than because of the rash of injuries that swept through the roster during the team's playoff run.
Alshon Jeffery is the biggest domino yet to fall.
According to The Athletic's Connor Hughes, the Eagles were "looking to move Jeffery" and the receiver "would welcome the change of scenery."
But a trade never materialized.
If the Eagles don't want the 30-year-old veteran in the locker room, the front office could designate him as a June 1 cut, add no extra financial burden beyond this year's $15.4 million cap number and save significant salary-cap space over the next two seasons.
The Eagles drafted three wide receivers, including first-round pick Jalen Reagor, and traded for Marquise Goodwin. The organization is readying itself for Jeffery's eventual departure.
Pittsburgh Steelers: TE Vance McDonald
Vance McDonald is the type of rough-and-tumble tight end blue-collar fans fall in love with the moment he trucks a defender. The 29-year-old veteran is a solid contributor, but he's not a difference-maker, hence the organization's decision to sign Eric Ebron in free agency.
Two seasons ago, Ebron led all tight ends with 13 touchdown receptions.
Pittsburgh also drafted Notre Dame's Chase Claypool in this year's second round. The 6'4", 238-pound wide receiver may eventually develop into another tight end option, but he'll start his career on the outside, according to Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. Plus, general manager Kevin Colbert selected Zach Gentry as another future in-line option a year ago.
The Steelers could save $1.1 million if the team is comfortable with those options and designates McDonald a June 1 cut.
San Francisco 49ers: CB Ahkello Witherspoon
By the end of the 2019 campaign, Ahkello Witherspoon no longer lined up opposite Richard Sherman. Emmanuel Moseley started at cornerback for the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Championship Game and in Super Bowl LIV.
Surprisingly, the 49ers didn't add anything to their secondary during the draft after re-signing cornerback Jason Verrett and free safety Jimmie Ward. As such, Witherspoon's status remains uncertain because the team needs depth.
The organization will almost certainly give undrafted cornerback DeMarkus Acy every opportunity to make the roster since he fits the 49ers' preferred physical profile (6'2" and 205) after starting three years in the SEC.
If Verrett stays healthy—a big if since he's played in six games over the last four years—and D.J. Reed Jr. continues to grow as a corner, the organization may be comfortable moving on from Witherspoon, whose inconsistency ultimately cost him his job. Plus, the 49ers could save $2.1 million by going in another direction.
Seattle Seahawks: TE Will Dissly
Will Dissly looked like a potential star when he actually played for the Seattle Seahawks. Unfortunately, both of the tight end's first two seasons ended shortly after they began with stints on the injured reserve.
He played in four games during his first season before suffering a patellar tendon injury. He lasted six games in 2019 before he tore an Achilles tendon.
In 10 combined games, the 2018 fourth-round pick caught 31 passes for 418 yards and six touchdowns. If those numbers are extrapolated over a full campaign, he would have caught 50 passes for 669 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Perhaps as a result of Dissly's questionable durability, Seattle placed a heavy emphasis on tight end this offseason. The Seahawks signed Greg Olsen and drafted Colby Parkinson in the fourth round to go with Jacob Hollister.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Justin Evans
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' acquisitions of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr. make head coach Bruce Arians' squad an immediate contender.
Winfield's second-round selection may be the least heralded of those moves, but it could be important on two levels. Not only is the 2019 Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year the most instinctive defender from his draft class, but he can also help create slightly more financial flexibility for the team since it lacks the wiggle room to make any further moves.
With Winfield and Jordan Whitehead as Tampa Bay's projected starters at safety, Justin Evans, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury, can be released and save the team an extra $1.2 million.
It may not sound like much, but the Bucs currently have $3.75 million in available salary-cap space.
Tennessee Titans: CB Malcolm Butler
Malcolm Butler holds the third-highest salary-cap hit on the Tennessee Titans this fall.
The organization's investments in quarterback Ryan Tannehill and left tackle Taylor Lewan make plenty of sense. The same can't be said of the payout owed to Butler at this point in his career.
The 30-year-old cornerback is still a valuable contributor, but his worth must be weighed in relation to his actual salary. The Titans can cut him, designate him as a post-June 1 move and save over $5 million toward the 2020 salary cap.
Tennessee has other options on the roster capable of taking over for the six-year veteran. The organization signed Johnathan Joseph in free agency before drafting LSU's Kristian Fulton in this year's second round. Also, safety Amani Hooker covers the slot in big nickel looks.
Washington Redskins: RB Adrian Peterson
The Washington Redskins have invested in running backs like they're going out of style, which they kind of are.
Last season, Adrian Peterson led the way with 898 rushing yards. The future Hall of Famer remains effective into his mid-30s, but Washington has a surplus of running back talent.
The organization already drafted Derrius Guice and Bryce Love, though both have dealt with injuries. Peyton Barber signed as a free agent after leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in rushing two of the last three seasons.
Washington also added Antonio Gibson in this year's third round, and he's a hybrid with the ability to play running back or wide receiver.
That's a lot of potential. The team, meanwhile, can save $2.5 million of the $3.25 million invested in Peterson if it prefers to go with its younger options.