I’ll turn my attention now to the defense with the defensive end position. If you are new to these pieces, in each article I review a position and give an opinion on some of the players who I believe are in danger of being released or traded in the offseason. Next up should be defensive tackles.
1. Mario Williams, Dolphins
Cap Saved: $8.5 million/Cash Saved: $8.5 million
When we talk about great contracts often we forget to mention Williams who has leveraged draft status and name value as well as any player ever has. Miami took a shot on Williams and hoped his problems were related to clashing with his prior coach in Buffalo, but the reality is that he is no longer the same player. Williams has basically fallen off a cliff in the last two years and has just 1.5 sacks and 9 tackles through week 16.
2. Arthur Jones, Colts
Cap Saved: $5.1 million/Cash Saved: $6.2 million
When people criticize the Colts front office for the job they have done over the last few seasons, Jones is usually front and center of that criticism. The Colts took a gamble on Jones assuming that he could continue improve even further than where he was with the Ravens but instead he regressed, missed a year due to injury, and also faced a suspension.
3. Tyson Jackson, Falcons
Cap Saved: $2.7 million/Cash Saved: $4.3 million
This was one of those signings that never really made sense from the start, but the Falcons made a few desperation plays that year to try to fix the defense and have basically been stuck with Jackson for three years because of it. Jackson has produced 0 sacks and just 28 tackles in 3 seasons. He’s not really a positional fit for the team and its time for the Falcons to move on.
4. Jared Odrick, Jaguars
Cap Saved: $8.5 million/Cash Saved: $8.5 million
You can put Odrick’s name down in a pretty long list of head scratching contracts signed by the Jaguars in recent years. Odrick is versatile and can play a number of positions but he isn’t a standout at any position and after missing 10 games Im not sure of the logic in bringing back a 30 year old, overpaid player on a really bad football team.
5. Connor Barwin, Eagles
Cap Saved: $7.8 million/Cash Saved: $7.8 million
The change in defense didn’t seem to click well with Barwin who is currently near his career low in sacks and tackles. While nobody believed he would ever replicate his 14 sack season the Eagles do have a number of questions to consider here. Is Barwin a bad fit for the defense? Is Barwin’s age a reason for the decline. I believe the Eagles front office likes Barwin so he could be more of a lower cost extension candidate, but its hard to justify this number given his production.
6. Brian Robison, Vikings
Cap Saved: $5.6 million/Cash Saved: $5.6 million
With the Vikings season not going the way they hoped its probably time for the team to begin making sure they don’t waste too much on older players and Robison fits that bill. Robison will be 34 next season and it is hard to justify this kind of salary on someone who should start to be see his playing time phased down. Better players are around the NFL have taken on lower salaries at this stage of their career and I can’t see any reason why Robison won’t be asked to do the same or be released if he refuses.
7. Brooks Reed, Falcons
Cap Saved: $2.2 million/Cash Saved: $4.1 million
I’m not entirely sure what the Falcons expected from Reed when they signed him to a 5 year, $22.5M contract but I would imagine it was more production than they have received. Reed has been unable to win over a starting job and plays in under 40% of the snaps. The team needs more of a rush up front and it certainly is not going to come from Reed.
8. Sheldon Richardson, Jets
Cap Saved: $8.1 million/Cash Saved: $8.1 million
I don’t think the Jets will actually release Richardson unless he has another off the field incident but they should do everything in their power to try to trade him. Richardson acted through most of the year as if he was trying to get himself moved off team and the Jets have a logjam at his position and in many ways treat Richardson as the odd man out. He is incredibly talented but there are questions about that talent showing itself all the time. The question is can the Jets get a team to bite on a high draft pick in a trade or not. If not they may have a very unhappy player on their hands next season unless they can find a way to utilize him better.
9. Eugene Sims, Rams
Cap Saved: $3.3 million/Cash Saved: $3.3 million
There is nothing wrong with having a player like Sims as a rotational player, but there are two things to consider here. One is that the price is a little steep for a player who really can’t rush the quarterback even when given the opportunity. Secondly it seems as if the Rams are still pretty far away from competing and savings from his contract could be siphoned to the offense which needs a facelift.
10. George Johnson, Buccaneers
Cap Saved: $2.2 million/Cash Saved: $2.2 million
Johnson was part of one of the odder minor contract squabbles a few years ago when as a RFA the Lions disputed the offer sheet he signed with Tampa Bay before the agreed to simply trade him to Tampa. Johnson didnty come close to duplicating his 6 sack season in his first year with Tampa, finishing with no sacks in 11 games. He spent all of 2016 on IR.
11. Desmond Bryant, Browns
Cap Saved: $3 million/Cash Saved: $3.5 million
Figuring out anything about the Browns is near impossible but I thought it made sense to include Bryant on this list since he spent the year on NFI after getting hurt lifting weights. Bryant is one of those players who can be very productive certain weeks but not on others. The Browns have already redone his contract to be more reflective of his overall production and did pay him while on NFI a reasonable salary which makes me think they are keeping him, though its entirely possible they redid the contract to hope to trade him in the offseason.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.