Keeping up with our look at potential cuts around the NFL we turn our attention today to the offensive tackle position, where a number of players took one year contracts with an option to hopefully cash in next season.
1. Ryan Clady, Jets
Cap Saved: $10.5 million/Cash Saved: $10.5 million
The Jets took a chance that Clady, who was once an elite player, could shake off a few years worth of injuries and play at a high level but it never happened. Clady performed poorly with the Jets this year and then landed on IR, his third time in four years he finished the regular season on the injured list. At this point Clady will be viewed different than a Jake Long type who has the name value to carry them to another contract but an injury history that makes them a high risk. The Jets technically have an option on Clady which they clearly will not exercise, in effect cutting him and making him a free agent.
2. Russell Okung, Broncos
Cap Saved: $10.9 million/Cash Saved: $11.5 million
Though Okung has played in almost every snap this season, the Broncos are not in the business of overpaying players because they may not have another option already lined up. Okung has been ok in his first year with the Broncos, but he needed to be have the Broncos pick up an option that would pay him $11.5 million in 2017, nearly double his 2016 salary. I do believe that the Broncos will make an attempt to rework this contract but I believe Okung’s level of play is probably closer to the mid tier $8M tackles than the upper echelon tackle market that his option would indicate.
3. Donald Stephenson, Broncos
Cap Saved: $3 million/Cash Saved: $4 million
John Elway often gets a great deal of credit for being tough with player decisions and then being proven right, but this is a spot where he clearly got it wrong. Stephenson was graded by PFF as one of the worst two linemen in the NFL. He is a penalty machine and hasn’t had much lock blocking opponents. Stephenson has a $4M guarantee that kicks in on the 5th day of the league year so they need to cut him before that date.
4. Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots
Cap Saved: $2.25 million/Cash Saved: $3.25 million
Vollmer was set to be a free agent in 2017 but by spending the year on the PUP list he will see his contract toll and he will remain on the Patriots roster for 2017. He lost his position to Marcus Cannon who was extended on long term deal just a few weeks ago so it seems pretty clear that the Patriots will move away from Vollmer this year unless they see value in him as a backup.
5. King Dunlap, Chargers
Cap Saved: $5.125 million/Cash Saved: $6.75 million
The Chargers signed Dunlap to a $7M per year contract in 2015 that certainly surprised me as prior to that Dunlap was basically a $2M a year player. Just one year into the contract the Chargers seemingly realized their mistake and cut his salary for the year by $1.2 million. Next year that salary increases by nearly $3 million and this time they will probably just admit their mistake and move on.
6. Austin Howard, Raiders
Cap Saved: $3.6 million/Cash Saved: $5 million
Howard ended up with the right tackle job because of injury but did not distinguish himself this season and was recently benched. Howard probably never lived up the Raiders expectations when they signed him though he has been relatively durable. At this stage Howard’s future may be as a jack of all trades types on another team.
7. Breno Giacomini, Jets
Cap Saved: $4.3 million/Cash Saved: $4.3 million
It was kind of surprising that the Jets opted to retain Giacomini this season, but I guess after switching their left tackle they wanted more continuity on the line. However that never happened as Giacomini spent most of the year on the PUP list and then averaged around ¾ of a penalty and sack allowed per game before going on IR to finish the year.
8. Kelvin Beachum, Jaguars
Cap Saved: $8.5 million/Cash Saved: $12.5 million
Beachum was the other tackle along with Okung who opted for a one year “prove it” style contract and I think just about everything that applies to Okung applies to Beachum. The only reason I don’t have him rated as high on the list is because of the team he plays for. The Broncos are very demanding with their contracts while the Jaguars are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. It’s very possible that the Jaguars could decide that Beachum is competent enough to honor a pretty high final four years and pick up his $5 million option.
9. Joe Reitz, Colts
Cap Saved: $2.5 million/Cash Saved: $2.5 million
Reitz was benched this year and with just one year remaining on his contract may be in line to be replaced by a younger player with more upside. At a price this low you cant discount them keeping someone around, but the Colts offensive line is pretty poor and if you are being in Indianapolis it’s probably not a good sign for the future.
10. Jah Reid, Chiefs
Cap Saved: $2.1 million/Cash Saved: $2.85 million
Reid signed a moderate contract extension in late 2015, after becoming a starter for the team, but I’m not sure there is a role left for him anymore now that they signed Mitchell Schwartz. They have younger players on the line so unless they want him as an insurance policy, which is possible since he isn’t very expensive, I’m not sure why they would keep him.