1. Martellus Bennett, Patriots
Cap Saved: $6.18 million; Cash Saved: $6.5 million
Bennett took the money and ran last year when he signed this deal with the Packers. It didn’t take long before he started talking retirement and indicated he was too hurt to play. The Packers eventually got fed up and released him and surprisingly the Patriots claimed Bennett off waivers. Bennett only played two games with the Pats before landing on IR. He may just retire but if he doesn’t he’ll most certainly be released.
2. Dwayne Allen, Patriots
Cap Saved: $5 million; Cash Saved: $5 million
Allen’s contract, which was signed by the Colts, should go down as the modern era standard by which all other bad contracts are judged. Allen saw action in about 40% of the Patriots offensive snaps but only managed a meager 86 yards on the year. It is hard to picture any scenario where he would be worth more than the minimum.
3. Julius Thomas, Dolphins
Cap Saved: $6.6 million; Cash Saved: $6.6 million
Give credit to the Dolphins for taking chances in the trade market but they have really done a poor job at identifying the value in some of these trades and in reality have saved two teams from bad contracts in the last few years. Thomas is injury prone and hasn’t produced at his contract level since leaving Denver. Miami cant waste over $6 million hoping that Thomas can be something he hasn’t been since 2013.
4. Eric Ebron, Lions
Cap Saved: $8.25 million; Cash Saved: $8.25 million
Normally I would call this a misuse of the option, but I can also see the Lions planning for the potential of using the franchise tag on Ziggy Ansah which could have made it difficult for the Lions to keep Ebron if he had a great year. If you look past where the Lions drafted Ebron hes pretty average. The Tight End market is a bit wacky and I’m sure some team will pay Ebron close to $7 million, but you can’t pay this much for just one season. If they can’t come to terms on an extension it would be best to cut him. His contract will be fully guaranteed at the start of free agency.
5. Dion Sims, Bears
Cap Saved: $5.67 million; Cash Saved: $6 million
Given his career performance Sims’ 180 yard, 14 game season is pretty expected, but I have to think the Bears expected more at this price. If they didn’t then Sims’ position with the team should be safe, but there are few players that give less bang for the buck on offense than Sims. He has $4 million that will become fully guaranteed on the 3rd day of free agency so they won’t be able to waste time with making a decision.
6. Vance McDonald, Steelers
Cap Saved: $4.3 million Cash Saved: $4.6 million
The Steelers paid under $3 million to get a one year look at McDonald last season and given their salary cap issues I’m not sure they can justify a $4.6 million price this year. McDonald only had 188 yards for the Steelers and was a clear second fiddle to Jesse James. McDonald continued to struggle with injuries and has missed 21 games in the last four seasons. The only reason I am hedging a little here is that he had a 112 yard playoff game that might convince a team to keep him. His salary becomes guaranteed on April 1 so the Steelers have time to work on a contract reduction or release if they find better use for the money.
7. Brent Celek, Eagles
Cap Saved: $4 million; Cash Saved: $4 million
This is one of those tough calls because emotions come into play. Celek is an institution in Philly, having spent 11 seasons with the Eagles, and it’s hard to imagine the team without him. His role has changed since the drafting of Zach Ertz and was further diminished as Trey Burton was used more and in his current role he can’t take up $4 million on a team with a tight cap situation, especially if they want to keep Burton. The best scenario may be for him to retire, but the Eagles perhaps could work out an extension that lowers his salary significantly if he wants to keep playing.
8. CJ Fiedorowicz, Texans
Cap Saved: $2.36 million; Cash Saved: $2.7 million
Fiedorowicz is a unique case this year where his release is likely only going to come down in the event he can not pass a physical. If he can pass a physical then the finances here completely change with larger guarantees kicking in. If he is cleared to play the Texans will probably allow him to do so. Really this is more about retirement due to injury rather than release.
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.