This time every year, we get a wave of rookies picked to dislodge the veterans and ultimately lead to the demise of these great players.
With the rookie wage scale in place for more than a decade now, the cost of vibrant young players makes it more tempting for teams to use them as contributors than expensive established players even if there is an element unknown with first-year pros.
Let’s take a look at the veterans most likely to be on the chopping block after the draft. While these transactions can of course occur across the entire league, they are usually more prevalent in clubs at or near the salary cap. I’ve narrowed my focus to teams who are likely to be looking for more funding opportunities as summer approaches.
Savings ceiling if it is released: $15.4 million before June 1st and after June 1st
Possible replacement for starters: Will McDonald IV
Lawson has been good for the Jets in 2022, there’s no question about that. Powerful running defender, high-energy outside rusher. He recorded 49 pressures and seven sacks in his first season with the Gang Green. Was Lawson great? I can’t say that. Those 49 pressures came over 430 quick shots. A compression creation rate of close to 11% is relatively low for alpha theaters, especially older and more serious ones, and it’s expensive.
The Jets singled McDonald’s, a similarly sized defender to Lawson, for 15th overall. Not to mention, GM Joe Douglas jumped back to the first round of the 2022 draft to pick… edge rusher Jermaine Johnson, and ironically, he’s got better pressing efficiency than last year’s fifth-round pick Michelle Clemons at the same position.
Yes, this Jets team appears to be working with Aaron Rodgers & Co., which means there’s no way to cut or trade a well-established commodity like Lawson in defending Robert Saleh. But even crazier things have happened, and when it comes to listing sites in NFLSmaller and cheaper labor is usually best.
Savings ceiling if it is released: $1.5 million
Possible replacement for starters: Marvin Mims
This is clear as day. I’m actually surprised Hammler is on the list now. why is that? Because Denver’s first pick Sean Payton was the similarly sized, fast wide Marvin Mims to be the real head-burner on his offense.
Hamler himself is having a blast, he simply can’t stay healthy in the NFL and hasn’t been overly productive when he’s on the field.
At only 24 years old, Hamler will likely have a huge market if/when he gets released by the Broncos.
Savings ceiling if it is released: $8.26 million before June 1st and after June 1st
Possible replacement for starters: Derek Hall
Nwosu has been an integral part of the Seahawks defense in 2022, playing on nearly 80% of the shots and littering the stat sheet with production. He had 66 tackles and 9.5 sacks. But I don’t think it would be crazy if Seattle let him go. And my area is several layers.
for every OvertheCapSeattle was “effectively” over the cap by more than $4 million, the highest in the NFL. This means that the Seahawks are in agreement to be over the cap once they calculate their top 51 salary and draft class.
Also, last calendar year, Pete Carroll and John Schneider added Boye Maye – a 2022 second-round pick – Derick Hall – a 2023 second-round pick – and spent a fifth-round pick on Mike Morris a few weeks ago. They will also return Tyreke Smith, a fifth-round draft pick in 2022, who missed his rookie season due to injury. Nwosu’s inclusion on this list doesn’t mean he’s as good as he’s gone, but at his current price, with youngsters around him on the edge of Seattle’s defensive line, he could be expendable.
Savings ceiling if it is released: $2.7 million before June 1 and after June 1
Possible replacement for starters: Felix Anodic-Ozuma
The Chiefs have now spent back-to-back first-round picks in a hard-hitting position — George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah. Of course, given their clear win-win situation now, Kansas City is more likely to keep the veteran chops than let them go, and Dana has been a fine soldier on the Chiefs’ elite teams.
But parting with nearly $3 million might be tempting for GM Brit Fitch, and we can’t forget that Kansas acquired Charles Omeniho this season. He’s an inside-out defensive lineman who will add depth in the trenches. Although Dana gave the Chiefs a healthy ROI in a 2020 fifth-round pick, the club has since added higher picks and spent at defensive point in hopes of giving Chris Jones more help up front.
Savings ceiling if it is released: $8.5 million before June 1 and after June 1
Possible replacement for starters: Emmanuel Forbes
Fuller remains a reliable outside cornerback, fresh off a stellar 2022 campaign. But suddenly, there’s competition for the cornerback in Washington. Away from the very young and tall Benjamin St. Justi, there is now first-round playmaker Emmanuel Forbes in the cornerback room.
Cam Dantzler was added to waivers this season as well. Does Washington want to organize such a young cornerback group in 2023? Mostly not. But according to OverTheCap, leaders are set to be over the limit. A saving of close to $9 million would have gone a long way on the books.
Savings ceiling if it is released: $8.9 million before June 1, and $19.4 million after June 1
Possible replacement for starters: Michael Wilson
It still doesn’t make sense for the Cardinals to have Hopkins on the roster. I understand that every new general manager and coach wants to win right away. So it’s not like Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon are content with their debut seasons in those Arizona roles just because the roster is behind the vast majority of the NFL.
However, these two should be aware that the club is nowhere near competitive on a serious level even in watered-down NFC. And the 31-year-old Hopkins is getting lower every day. Those savings numbers are substantial, particularly if Hopkins is issued with that beneficial designation after June 1st that results in the cap being posted over two years.
No, the Cardinals don’t expect Michael Wilson to fill the star-sized void that would arise if Hopkins left. But spending a third round on a low-volume perimeter wide wide, who worked through an injury-plagued career at Stanford, indicated they wanted to emphasize their willingness to fill that outside receiver spot if Hopkins simply needed to be released or traded in exchange for the organization’s long-term improvement.
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