2017 Potential Cuts: Defensive End

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.

  • McGeorge

    I think Sheldon Richardson has little trade value. What can the Jets get, a 4th?
    I think its criminal that the HC and DC can’t get anything out of him and Wilkerson and Williams. They had those 3 last year, with Damon Harrison and they played well. Whats different?

    • Werner

      Jets might better take whatever they can get. Sometimes what looks like the greatest defensive front on paper is just a incompatible collection of Egos and Character issues drowning the player potential. And whatever we can learn from successful franchises is to move on, if stuff repeatedly doesn’t work. Jets have so many holes to fill, so a mid pick and cap space is probably the maximum contribution Richardson can give to future Jets success.

      • McGeorge

        1. How do you explain that the Jets had those same players last year and they played well?

        2. Good coaches like Belichick are able to use players effectively.

        • Werner

          1. What a difference a date and some ink make… “The Jets signed Muhammad Wilkerson on July 15, 2016 to a five year, $86 million contract.” Seems to have spoiled both Wilkerson and Richardson…
          2. I couldn’t agree more. Just add : Good GM like BB are able to unload misfits (i.e. trade) at excessive costs to the counter party before they smell the rat.

          • McGeorge

            Why would paying Wilkerson spoil Richardson?
            Wouldn’t it give Richardson incentive to do well and get paid similarly?

          • Werner

            i did definitely spoil Wilkerson. And Richardson may for one have been disappointed, as the common expectation was to see Wilkerson moved and saw himself as new lead of the Defensive Front. And all the money sunk into Wilkerson would not be available to pay Richardson, as nobody would have 2 Front positions paid so high.

    • Derrick Sly

      I would be OK with the Broncos giving up a comp 3rd for him, especially if he is willing to take a paycut.

  • IMK

    I think Sheldon Richardson worth a 3rd rounder 2018 and a 4th rounder 2017 and a low tier player. I think the Chicago Bears can easily offer this and should be the first to do so to obtain Richardson.