The 7 Biggest Names Who Could Still Get Cut in the 2022 NFL Offseason

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2022

The 7 Biggest Names Who Could Still Get Cut in the 2022 NFL Offseason

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    We're deep into the second wave of NFL free agency and quickly approaching the 2022 draft. This means teams are largely focused on player acquisition and not on creating roster space and clearing cap room.

    However, this doesn't mean every veteran's job is safe. As franchises retool their roster and take on more payroll in free agency and the draft, some players will inevitably have to go. After the Miami Dolphins acquired Tyreek Hill, for example, it created an unnecessary logjam at receiver.

    On Saturday, the Dolphins traded DeVante Parker to the rival New England Patriots.

    Parker, the 14th pick in the 2015 draft, won't be the last notable name to be dumped this offseason. Below, you'll find a look at seven players who could be on the move before the offseason comes to an end. Naturally, teams would prefer to trade these players if possible, but if trades cannot be orchestrated, they could be released outright.

    Factors like cap space, contract status, roster construction and player health were considered here. Players are listed in alphabetical order.     

James Bradberry, CB, New York Giants

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Cornerback James Bradberry was a Pro Bowler for the New York Giants in 2020 and a serviceable starter again last season. However, he's also on the trade block because of his salary.

    Bradberry is in the final year of his contract and carries a cap hit of $21.9 million. While New York would have to eat an $11.7 million dead-cap charge to release him—and likely a large percentage of that in a trade scenario—it would still save more than $10 million of the cap.

    The Giants currently have less than $1 million in cap space, so that $10 million in savings would be huge.

    Obviously, the Giants would prefer to get something in return for Bradberry, but they're not going to hold out for a sizable haul.

    "Spoke to a bunch of sources this morning on CB James Bradberry. The belief is the Giants' ask isn't much (late-round pick) in a trade," ESPN's Jordan Raanan tweeted in mid-March.

    If New York cannot find a buyer, Bradberry will likely be released.

Mike Davis, RB, Atlanta Falcons

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    When the Atlanta Falcons traded longtime starting quarterback Matt Ryan, it triggered what could be the start of a complete rebuild. With just $4.5 million in cap space, the Falcons are poised to cut any excess weight before or after the 2022 draft.

    Running back Mike Davis, who started eight games and appeared in all 17 last season, could be considered excess. While he was a serviceable starter in 2020 with the Carolina Panthers—642 rushing yards, 373 receiving yards, eight combined touchdowns—he was less effective in Atlanta.

    Davis averaged just 3.6 yards per carry in 2021 and often conceded to runner/receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in the game plan. With Patterson re-signed and Damien Williams added in free agency, Davis is expendable.

    If the Falcons release Davis, they can save $2.5 million in cap space. That's a decent chunk, given Atlanta's cap situation. Finding another back in the draft and cutting Davis would make a ton of financial sense for the Falcons.

Nick Foles, QB, Chicago Bears

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears have their quarterback of the future in Justin Fields. They signed a veteran backup in Trevor Siemian in free agency, which makes Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles expendable.

    "The Bears have explored trades for Nick Foles," NFL Network's Mike Garafolo tweeted. "With the addition of Siemian, expect that to continue, as the writing is on the wall for Foles, who has $1m of his base salary guaranteed in addition to the $4m roster bonus Chicago just paid him this month."

    The problem is that trading Foles before the draft could be difficult. Teams like the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Commanders, Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos have already traded for new starters. Other teams will inevitably look to land a starter over draft weekend.

    If Chicago cannot find a trade partner after the draft, Foles could be released. The Bears aren't desperate for cap space—they have $15.5 million available—but they could still save $3 million by cutting him. That's a lot of money for a player who might not even dress on game days.

Dee Ford, DE, San Francisco 49ers

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers appear poised to part with pass-rusher Dee Ford one way or another. Neck and back injuries have landed Ford on injured reserve in each of the last two seasons, and he has just 18 games and 9.5 sacks on his three-year 49ers resume.

    General manager John Lynch doesn't anticipate Ford turning things around.

    "I don't see a lot of hope in him being a factor for us on the field moving forward," Lynch said, per ESPN's Nick Wagoner.

    Per Wagoner, Ford's back injury "hasn't progressed" enough to give San Francisco hope. Releasing Ford will be a difficult decision because it will trigger a $14.5 million dead-cap charge. The 49ers have just $1.7 million in available cap space.

    Given Ford's health, though, trading the 2018 Pro Bowler could be even trickier. San Francisco will likely hang on to Ford until after the draft, but he could be released with a post-June 1 designation—which would save $1.1 million in 2022 cap space, per The Athletic's David Lombardi—unless his recovery takes a sudden and positive turn.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Ever since the 49ers traded up for quarterback Trey Lance in the 2021 draft, it's felt like Jimmy Garoppolo could be had in a trade. If general manager John Lynch is to be believed, at least one offer has already been made.

    According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Lynch "is telling interested teams" that he has an offer of two second-round picks for Garoppolo on the table. It's entirely possible, though, that Lynch is bluffing.

    The trade market has already seen Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson on the move. The potential market for Garoppolo is limited at this point in the offseason, and Garoppolo's offseason shoulder surgery hasn't helped.

    "The biggest problem, as one league source explained it on Saturday, is the shoulder surgery Garoppolo underwent earlier this month," Florio wrote. "No one will trade for a quarterback with a $25 million compensation package after he underwent surgery to repair the labrum in his throwing shoulder, the source explained."

    The 49ers could give Garoppolo another season, but they could also save $24.6 million by releasing him. Given the 49ers' cap situation, the latter feels like the eventual outcome.

Ryan Griffin, TE, New York Jets

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Ryan Griffin might not be a household name, but he was the New York Jets starting tight end in 2021. He made 12 starts for New York this past season, has 31 starts for the Jets in three seasons and has appeared in 119 career games.

    However, Griffin has never been a high-end producer in the passing game. Despite playing 63 percent of the offensive snaps in 2021, he caught just 27 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns. With the Jets adding both Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah in free agency, Griffin could be on the way out.

    Griffin carries a cap hit of $3.2 million this season with none of his contract guaranteed. While the Jets aren't excessively cap-strapped—they still have $13.3 million in cap space remaining—over $3 million in savings is nothing to sneeze at.

    Because New York isn't in a dire financial situation, it might wait until the draft is over to make a decision on Griffin. If the Jets can find a developmental tight end to bring along slowly behind Conklin, Uzomah and Trevon Wesco, keeping Griffin will make little financial sense.

N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots

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    Zach Bolinger/Associated Press

    With DeVante Parker now in the fold for New England, 2019 first-round pick N'Keal Harry could be on the way out. Releasing Harry would save $1.2 million in cap space, and while that's not a ton, the Patriots can use every free dollar they can muster.

    The Patriots are $334,097 over the cap.

    Cutting Harry would be about more than dollars and cents, though. It would be about pulling the plug on a player who simply cannot seem to make an impact.

    "This likely means the end of the road for 2019 first-round pick N'Keal Harry, who already had a difficult time breaking through and now faces increased competition," ESPN's Mike Reiss wrote.

    Harry has a mere 57 receptions, 598 yards and four touchdowns in three years. He's never appeared to fit in New England's offense, and the Patriots will be inclined to give his roster spot to someone who can contribute more consistently.

    That someone could be a wideout taken in this month's draft. Harry could be gone before New England is even on the clock.


    Cap and contract information courtesy of Spotrac. Advanced statistics from Pro Football Reference.