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My take on what the Jets should do with Mark Sanchez (if he’s not the starting QB)


Since I started writing posts here on, I have rarely, if ever, written about my beloved New York Jets. Jason does an incredible job covering every move the team makes, so there is never anything to add. However, with the Jets set to entertain a quarterback controversy (…again), I want to take a minute and write about a scenario the Jets may be facing, the question of what to do with Mark Sanchez if he isn’t the starting quarterback next year.

As we all know, the Jets quarterback situation isn’t exactly stellar and so the team is set to host a competition for the starting job come training camp. With the abrupt retirement of David Gerrard, we are left with two realistic options to win the job, incumbent Mark Sanchez and touted rookie Geno Smith (no, I don’t count Greg McElroy). In terms of skill, the competition could go either way. Nobody quite knows what the Jets have in Smith just yet, and there’s an argument to be made new Jets coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s offense is as best a fit for Sanchez as any scheme he’s been in since entering the league in 2009. It wouldn’t shock me if either one outperformed the other come camp. For purposes of this post, let’s assume Geno Smith wins the job and is under center against Revis and company on September 8th. At this point, you’d have voices screaming from every direction as to how handle Sanchez.

There are really two ways the team could go here. The first option is to keep Sanchez on the roster as Smith’s backup. Many would say he’s a better backup then the free agent scrap heaps that remain, and that’s certainly a fair statement. But, if Sanchez remained on the roster all year and wasn’t the starting quarterback, it could create a headache that no one needs. If Smith succeeds, we’re sure to get many camera shots of Sanchez looking glum on the sidelines during games. If Smith struggles, we’ll certainly read a ton of stories about Sanchez looking over Smith’s back, ready to pounce on the job before Smith could truly grab it. I’m sure we’ll even hear how Sanchez looks like a new man in practice, much like we heard during camp last season. This is not the route I would take, but you can certainly understand where people are coming from who would argue Sanchez is the best option as a backup QB. The other option would be to release (or potentially trade) Sanchez prior to the season’s commencement and either sign a new backup or roll with McElroy or someone else competing during camp. I feel confident in saying thiis the choice many Jets fans would prefer. However, whenever you hear talk of Sanchez’ release, you always hear the cap “experts” on TV say it’s, “not a possibility based on the Jets cap situation.”

If you were to listen only to the folks on ESPN, it would quite honestly be a reasonable assumption that the Jets were doomed to go 1-15 next year (hell, let’s say 0-16 for the next decade, just for fun) solely due to cap issues. However, if you’re a reader of this website, you know that the Jets cap issues were vastly overstated.  If you want to argue the Jets aren’t a good team based on talent issues, that’s fine. But to say the team is in “cap hell” shows a lack of homework on the part of the speaker. The team made the no-brainer moves of releasing unproductive players that yielded high cap savings, guys such as Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Eric Smith and Jason Smith. Of course these savings were not contemplated by the people reporting these issues. These releases saved the team nearly $30 million in cap room (Jason Smith saved $12 million alone!).

Back to Sanchez. Again, we are assuming Geno Smith is the team’s starting quarterback at this point and the team wants to release or trade Sanchez. What are the cap implications? Well, let’s say he’s released out of the blue today. The Jets would suffer a dead money hit on their 2013 salary cap of $17,653,125.  This consists of his guaranteed base salary, workout bonuses, and accelerated signing bonus prorations. However, it’s currently May 20th, Smith hasn’t done anything except look decent in rookie minicamp and Sanchez remains on the roster. It is very doubtful right now that Sanchez is getting released prior to June 1st, so lets look at the implications if he’s released after June 1st. As Jason has thoroughly explained on the site before, a June 1st cut spreads out the dead money hit Sanchez would cost the team. If Sanchez were cut after June 1st, the Jets would suffer a 2013 cap hit of $12,853,125 from his guaranteed base salary, 2013 signing bonus proration and $500k workout bonus. The Jets would then suffer a $4.8 million dead money hit in 2014 due to the acceleration of his bonus proration in 2015 and 2016 (on top his 2014 proration). Either way, the Jets are suffering the same cap hit, it’s just a matter of when.

Now, let’s just go back to the Jets salary cap for a second. The team has an estimated $11,743,505 in cap space for 2013 (which includes Sanchez’ 2013 hit of $12,853,125). Additionally, this includes those draft pickss that are signed, but does not include the estimates for those who remain unsigned (The Jets 2013 cap number for all draft picks is an estimated $6,916,58). If the Jets cut Sanchez today, another chunk of $4.8 million eats into that space (that $4.8 million is from his accelerated bonus proration). So, could the Jets release Sanchez today and absorb the full hit? Yes, they could. It wouldn’t leave them with much room at all though, and they still need to account for signing a new backup (if they don’t stick with McElroy or someone else on the roster) and any injury replacements. It would be tough to swallow, but it’s theoretically possible. As mentioned above though, if the Jets do release Sanchez, it would likely be as a June 1st cut where his cap hit would be spread over this year and next. If this happens, the estimated cap space listed above wouldn’t change; Sanchez’ 2013 hit would be the same as if he were here (the Jets would then just suffer the $4.8 million hit in 2014).No matter which way you look at it, the cap situation isn’t 100% stopping the Jets from making the move.

Many people would scream, “Why would the Jets suffer a 2013 cap hit to release Sanchez that’s at the very least, equal to the amount the Jets would suffer if Sanchez were on the roster?” Very reasonable question. It’s definitely not the most financially prudent move in the world. But, the benefits from other places may outweigh the negatives suffered from the financial imprudence. Despite all the numbers and cap figures thrown around, this is still, you know, a football team (I know, hard to believe sometimes). There are other considerations besides those numbers and cap figures. It’s not going to be financially sound regardless of what the Jets decide to do. Aside from the options I listed above regarding his release, Sanchez will either be an extremely high-paid backup that will be a constant distraction (through no fault of his own – Sanchez likely would play the good soldier), or, if traded, the Jets suffer a hit on their cap anyway due to covering part of his salary AND for the bonus proration that would accelerate into 2013 (similar to Revis’ prorated bonus amounts accelerating in 2013 due to the trade). There is simply no escaping a significant salary cap commitment to Mark Sanchez right now, but there IS escaping the media and locker room headache that comes with it. The Jets are clearly not sold on Sanchez progressing to where they need him to be, they wouldn’t have spent a second round pick on a quarterback if they were. There are available ways out of the Sanchez situation, we’ll see if the team decides to take any.

Twitter: AndrewOTC

Check out Mark Sanchez’ contract page here.


A look at the Year 1 and Year 2 Salary Cap Hits for Top 10 Draft Picks Under the New CBA


With the first round of the NFL Draft taking place tomorrow night, excitement is aplenty for NFL fans as we all anxiously await which college players our favorite team will select. However, around this time of year, it’s also always fun to take a look at recent contracts the top picks in previous drafts have received.

Of course nowadays, the top contracts aren’t what they used to be due to all of the changes for rookies implemented in the 2011 CBA. The years of record breaking contracts for the top pick every year are a thing of a past. Now, the contract for this year’s top pick isn’t going to look much different from last year’s top pick. As such, the cap hits for most of these players will be very similar for most draftees. Of course, this assumes that there will still be a freeze on signing bonus money.

Jason has done an incredible job of breaking down what each team’s Year One Pool (the cap allocation each team has to spend on rookies for the first year of their contracts), Signing Bonus Allocation (the immediate cash a team needs to sign their rookies), and Total Cap Estimate (the salary cap total to keep each rookie for all 4 years on their contract). What I wanted to do here was take a very quick look at the salary cap hits for the first two contract years of the top ten picks from both drafts that are governed by the 2011 CBA:

1st Pick

Year 1: 

Cam Newton: $4,004,636

Andrew Luck: $4,019,636

Year 2

Cam Newton: $5,005,795

Andrew Luck: $5,024,545

2nd Pick

Year 1:

Von Miller: $3,818,250

Robert Griffin III: $3,839,836

Year 2:

Von Miller: $4,772,813

Robert Griffin III: $4,799,795

3rd Pick

Year 1:

Marcell Dareus: $3,710,418

Trent Richardson: $3,725,418

Year 2:

Marcell Dareus: $4,638,023

Trent Richardson: $4,656,772

4th Pick

Year 1:

A.J. Green: $3,579,655

Matt Kalil: $3,594,655

Year 2

A.J. Green: $4,474,568

Matt Kalil: $4,493,318

5th Pick:

Year 1

Patrick Peterson: $3,350,818

Justin Blackmon: $3,365,820

Year 2

Patrick Peterson: $4,188,523

Justin Blackmon: $4,207,275

6th Pick

Year 1

Julio Jones: $2,942,500

Morris Claiborne: $2,957,182

Year 2

Julio Jones: $3,678,125

Morris Claiborne: $3,696,478

7th Pick

Year 1

Aldon Smith: $2,615,273

Mark Barron: $2,630,273

Year 2

Aldon Smith: $3,269,091

Mark Barron: $3,287,841

8th Pick

Year 1

Jake Locker: $2,288,364

Ryan Tannehill: $2,303,374

Year 2

Jake Locker: $2,860,455

Ryan Tannehill: $2,879,205

9th Pick

Year 1

Tyson Smith: $2,272,018

Luke Kuechly: $2,287,018

Year 2:

Tyson Smith: $2,840,022

Luke Kuechly: $2,858,773

10th Pick

Year 1

Blaine Gabbert: $2,182,118

Stephon Gilmore: $2,197,118

Year 2

Blaine Gabbert: $2,727,647

Stephon Gilmore: $2,746,398

% Increase for each pick (% was the same for both Year 1 and Year 2):

Pick 1: 0.37%

Pick 2: 0.56% 

Pick 3: 0.40% 

Pick 4: 0.42% 

Pick 5: 0.45% 

Pick 6: 0.50% 

Pick 7: 0.57% 

Pick 8: 0.66%

Pick 9: 0.66%

Pick 10: 0.69% 

Pretty similar, eh? As you can see, the % increase was thrown off a bit last year for the 2nd pick. However, that is likely because in 2012, the 2nd pick was a QB (Robert Griffin III) while in 2011 the pick was a LB (Von Miller). The same issue did not arise with the 8th pick in 2012, Ryan Tannehill, since the 8th pick in 2011 was also a QB (Jake Locker). I’d love to take a look soon and see what the % differences were for players who were drafted under the old CBA rules, because obviously now the difference is minimal. As the 2013 rookies begin to sign their contracts In the weeks and months to come, we’ll certainly be noting the differences and similarities in contract structure, though no one should be holding their breath for any major differences.

The next 24 hours are going to be a blast. As smokescreens continue to be set, take with skepticism all the wild rumors about what team wants to draft what player, what teams want to trade up and/or down, etc. Above all else, enjoy the draft and keep an eye on as we’ll certainly be taking a look at all rookie contracts.

Twitter: @AndrewOTC


Dead Money and the San Diego Chargers


A few weeks back, I wrote an article summing up the dead money totals the Dallas Cowboys may have hit their salary cap over the next few years (that post can be found here – however it is not updated to update Tony Romo’s new dead money totals). After writing that post, I thought it would be fun to take a similar look at different teams. Choosing a team at random for this one, I ended up going with the San Diego Chargers. For an explanation on the concept of dead money and its effect on a team’s salary cap, check out the second paragraph of the Cowboys post. Since Dallas is the only other team I’ve done a dead money post on, that’s the only team I can compare the Chargers to as of now (so don’t get too mad Cowboys fans!). Keep in mind that these costs are going to go up in the near future as draft picks sign their deals. Here’s how the Chargers’ dead money future looks:


Not much of a point in going in detail about the Chargers’ 2013 dead money count since the majority of these players will be on the roster anyway, thus meaning most of these players won’t actually result in dead money this year. For what its worth, San Diego currently has 37 players that would account for a total of $100,083,637. The average age of these players is 27.05 while the average age of the top 5 potential dead money hits (Robert Meachem, Derek Cox, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates) is 29.4.


In 2014, the Chargers currently have 31 total players that could accumulate for a total of $55,321,917. Of those 31 players, 16 of them would have dead money totals of over $1,000,000 (the total dead money for those 16 together would be $50,062,186). The good news for San Diego is that of the 7 with the highest potential dead money hits, 5 of them will be under 30 that season:

Derek Cox (Age 27): $8,150,000

Eric Weddle (29): $5,200,000

Malcom Floyd (33): $5,083,334

Antonio Gates (34): $4,725,000

Melvin Ingram (25): $4,212,600

Robert Meachem (29): $3,750,000

Ryan Mathews (26): $3,267,000


In 2015, the Chargers have 17 players with potential dead money hits for a total of $19,382,920. The average age of these 17 players is 29.24. Once again, age is on the team’s side here as of the top 5 players, 4 are ages 30 and under (the oldest is Antonio Gates, 35). Here are the 5 highest potential dead money hits:

Derek Cox (Age 28): $2,600,000

Eric Weddle (30): $2,600,000

Antonio Gates (35): $2,362,500

Melvin Ingram (26): $1,922,169

Robert Meachem (30): $1,875,000

Compare that to the Cowboys’  20 players for $56,492,180 (prior to the Romo extension), with 8 of the top 11 potential dead money hits being age 31 and over, safe to say at this point the Chargers have done a better job with cap management.


The Chargers only have 4 players with potential dead money hits in 2014, for a total of $2,387,500. Those players are:

Derek Cox (Age 29): $1,300,000

Mike Scifres (35): $600,000

Nick Novak (35): $375,000

Mike Windt (30): $112,500

You really couldn’t ask to be in a much better situation dead money-wise down the road, so kudos to the Chargers for doing a great job of managing their potential accelerated costs. Just to compare further, the Cowboys have 13 players with potential dead money hits in 2016 for a total of $32,079,050 (again, prior to Romo’s deal), with only 3 of those players under 30. Of course, this in no way means the Chargers will be fielding championship, or even competitive teams in these upcoming seasons. It just means the Chargers will have a bit more flexibility since a large portion of their dead money is tied into younger players (meaning these players are less likely to be cut and as such, will not result in dead money acceleration). This is a great example of how some teams manage their cap well by giving themselves flexibility down the line, while others, well, just don’t.

To check out the Chargers’ salary cap projections, click here.

Twitter: @AndrewOTC

Dead Money and the Dallas Cowboys


Over the past few weeks we’ve seen, both on this website and throughout the media, articles concerning all the contract restructuring the Dallas Cowboys have done. However, rarely (except for here on, has it been pointed out all the dead money accumulation in the future the Cowboys have put together in the process of these restructures. Sure, most places mention how much cap space the team cleared for 2013, and a lot of people will look at it and think it’s a great thing. As we’ve alluded to a million times here, this great news is not always what it’s cracked up to be. Specifically with the Cowboys, Jason has written a bunch about the mess they’re in now and will continue to be in down the line. Based on all that, I wanted to take a look at just where all the dead money is tied up with the Cowboys now and in the future. Keep in mind that the dead money totals in this post do not include amounts from any projections of rookie signing bonuses and/or guaranteed salaries, and so these numbers will be changing soon.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of dead money and how it applies to a team’s salary cap (for those who are, just skip this paragraph), dead money doesn’t refer to what it costs on a team’s salary cap to keep a player on their roster for the season. Dead money refers to how much money a player will cost a team on the salary cap if the team cuts ties with that player (or in some cases, trades that player). In a given year, a player’s dead money count can come from a number of things, such as signing bonus proration from future years that have accelerated to the current year due to the player being released, guaranteed base salaries down the line, etc. Calculating dead money isn’t one set formula for every player, many have unique contract structures that will drastically alter that player’s dead money total in a certain year; the specific point in the year when the player is released and/or traded can also have an effect (See Jason’s many posts on some guy named Revis, Darrelle). Dead money totals in the future can become extremely concerning to a team’s salary cap situation; older players who are no longer performing at the necessary level with big dead money hits from contracts negotiated in their prime become prohibitive (due to the money that accelerates to the current year’s cap when an older player with big dead money hits gets released). Thus, the dead money totals you see aren’t what these players are costing the Cowboys today, but instead it is what it would cost against the cap if these players were released in the specific year listed. Keep in mind that if a player is released, his dead money totals in the future no longer apply. This means, if Player X is released in 2013, he no longer has a dead money total in 2014 and beyond. Most dead money totals from future years simply accelerate into the current year’s salary cap.


As mentioned above, we’ve heard a million times about all the restructures the Cowboys have done to free up cap space now. As such, I didn’t want to spend so much time on the dead money this year since, well, 2013 is already here. Regardless, as of today, Dallas has about $168,629,424 in dead money on the roster. The five largest amounts of dead money for the Cowboys in 2013 come from Brandon Carr ($22,300,000), DeMarcus Ware ($15,823,943), Tony Romo ($13,499,835), Morris Claiborne ($13,307,320) and Jason Witten ($12,060,000). Safe to say these players aren’t going anywhere this year, so their dead money totals as of right now are an afterthought.


As of now, the Cowboys have 30 players on the roster whose contracts carry dead money totals into 2014. The total amount of dead money for 2014 is currently $97,616,072. The highest dead money players may be in their 20’s at this point (Carr wth $16.868 million and Claiborne with $9,610,842), but the average age of the next 6 players is 31.8:

Witten (32):    $8,648,000

Ware (32):       $8,571,500

Romo (34):      $8,181,000

Austin (30):    $7,855,600

Free (30):        $7,000,000

Ratliff (33):     $6,928,000)

The 6 players listed directly above account for 48.3% of all potential dead money on the Cowboys cap in 2014.


In 2015, the Cowboys have 20 players with dead money totals for a sum of $56,492,180. Of the 11 highest dead money hits on the team, only 3 will be in their 20’s:

Carr (29):        $12.151,000

Claiborne(25): $5,175,069

Scandrick(28): $3,602,500

The other 8 highest dead money totals come from players who are age 31 and over:

Ware (33):       $5,317,750

Witten (33):    $5,236,000

Austin (31):    $5,106,200

Romo (35):      $4,908,000

Ratliff (34):     $4,196,000

Free (31):        $3,980,000

Orton (32):      $2,000,000

Livings (33)     $1,400,000

The average age of those 8 players is 32.75, and they would account 56.89% of the potential dead money on Dallas’ cap that year (as constructed today).


As of now, the Cowboys have 13 players carrying dead money into 2016 for a total of $22,079,050. The problem here is that the top 5 are all age 30 and over, with the only one in the top 8 (dead money of $1 million or more) under 30 is Orlando Scandrick.

Carr (30):        $7,434,000

Austin (32):    $2,356,800

Ware (34):       $2,064,000

Witten (34):    $1,824,000

Romo (36):      $1,635,000

Scandrick(29): $1,501,250

Ratliff (35):     $1,464,000

Orton (33):      $1,000,000

While most of these figures for 2016 obviously aren’t huge, the Cowboys are a team that haven’t exactly left themselves in the best salary cap situation year after year, and so every available dollar counts. The point of this post isn’t really to say that they’re absolutely doomed down the line, or that they can’t get out of it, because I’m sure there are ways they can at least ease the burden. The point is, the Cowboys certainly do have a large amount of dead money tied into aging players and, unless they are extremely confident these players will play at a high level throughout the life of their contracts, this is just not a great practice. It’s more than likely a lot of these players won’t be on the team this long; most will probably be released at some time and so this team is going to see a large accumulation of dead money onto their salary cap at some point. Whether or not the Cowboys can find a way to balance the likely hits their cap will take remains to be seen, but what we can say as of right now is that we wouldn’t want to be them when it happens.

Twitter: @AndrewOTC


Cardinals Will Save $7.5 million in Cap Space by Releasing Kolb


Much to the delight of many Cardinals fans, it sounds as if the Kevin Kolb era is coming to an end in Arizona. Reports are circulating that the team plans to cut Kolb in the next few days, and coupled with the Drew Stanton signing, this would certainly seem to be the case.

As it stands today, Kolb’s $13.5 million salary cap hit is the highest on the Cardinals in 2013 (the second-highest is Larry Fitzgerald with a $10.25 million). It should also be noted that Kolb’s cap hit this year is the largest in any of the six years on his contract. Kolb’s 2013 cap hit is broken down as follows:

Base salary: $9 million

Prorated signing bonus: $2 million

Roster Bonus: $2 million

Workout Bonus: $500k

The key thing here is the $2 million roster bonus. This bonus is due on Saturday and so Kolb needs to be cut by then to avoid an increase in dead money charges. Right now, Kolb’s release would result in $6 million in dead money on Arizona’s 2013 cap. This dead money is comprised of the remaining signing bonus prorations ($2 million in each of 2013, 2014 and 2015), which by rule accelerates to the current year’s cap if the player is released. As such, if Kolb was released after this upcoming Saturday, that $6 million in dead money would increase to $8 million due to the roster bonus due. Seeing as there’s no way the Cardinals would let that happen, Kolb’s dead money will remain at $6 million and the team will realize a net cap savings of $7.5 million upon his release.

As reported by numerous beat writers, early rumors for Kolb’s next destination include the New York Jets, who have a connection here due to new offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg. Morhinweg was the offensive coordinator in Philadelphia while Kolb was an Eagle from 2007 – 2010, so there may be some interest. Whether or not the interest is strong enough to reach an agreement on monetary terms with the way the Jets are (or should I say, aren’t) spending money this offseason remains to be seen.

Check out the Cardinals salary cap page here

Twitter: @AndrewOTC


Steve Hutchinson: Career Cap Hits and the “Poison Pill” Contract


A little while ago, Jay Glazer reported that Steve Hutchinson of the Tennessee Titans will announce his retirement tomorrow. Hutchinson was a seven-time All Pro guard and seven-time Pro Bowler among his time with the Seahawks and Vikings, and played the final year of his stellar career last season in Tennessee. Of course, what many fans will remember Hutchinson for is the famous “Poison Pill” contract that Minnesota used to lure him away from Seattle.

The poison pill contract worked essentially like this. After the 2005 season, Hutchinson was an unrestricted free agent but was slapped with the transition tag by the Seahawks which gave the team the right of first refusal on any offer sheet Hutchinson may sign. The Vikings subsequently signed Hutchinson to an offer sheet for seven years and $49 million. The controversial part, however, was a provision included in the offer sheet that stated Hutchinson’s entire salary over the life of the contract would be guaranteed if he was not the highest paid offensive lineman on the team. In a normal scenario, this likely wouldn’t be a tough issue for a team to handle when the player is one of Steve Hutchinson’s caliber. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, this was not a normal scenario. In the previous offseason, Seattle had resigned Walter Jones, one of the greatest left tackles of all-time, to a contract that would pay him more than what the Vikings offered Hutchinson. Thus, if the Seahawks had matched the Vikings’ offer sheet, the poison pill would have automatically kicked in from the very beginning and Hutchinson’s entire seven-year deal would be guaranteed. This would have given Seattle incredible salary cap issues as two extremely high-paid offensive lineman would be on the roster, one of which would have every dollar guaranteed. The Seahawks obviously did not match this deal, but gained a bit of retribution against Minnesota by signing Vikings receiver Nate Burleson to a similarly structured poison pill contract that same offseason.

I wasn’t going to get into the famous poison pill contract in Hutchinson’s career, but seeing as this is a site designed to explain contract and salary cap issues, once I started I figured it was a necessity. The original reason I started writing this post was to recap Hutchinson’s career cap hits. Usually when a player retires, an article here and there will recap how much money that player has made over the course of his career. When an NFL player retires, it’s a little more fun not to look at how much total money they pulled in, but instead to see just what that player’s cap hits were every year. As such, as best as I could find, here are Hutchinson’s cap hits over the course of his amazing career:

Seattle Seahawks

2001: $1.2 million

2002: $1.310 million

2003: $1.399 million

2004: $1.465 million

2005: $3.510 million

Minnesota Vikings

2006: $13.335 million

2007: $7.135 million

2008: $6.5 million

2009: $7.5 million

2010: $8.6 million

2011: $6.730 million

Tennessee Titans

2012: $3.5 million

2013 (if he didn’t retire): $6.75 million (Titans save $3.75 million against cap this year).

Over 12 seasons, Hutchinson’s cap hits totaled $62.184 million. This averages out to a charge of $5.182 million per year. Not bad for a potential Hall of Famer.



Broncos Save Over $7 Million on 2013 Salary Cap by Releasing D.J Williams and Caleb Hanie – Updated Totals with Potential Dumervil Release


With the NFL-loving world focused on names like Percy Harvin and Anquan Boldin today (by the way, you can check out our post on Boldin’s salary situation from the other day here), it’s a little too easy to miss some of the other transactions that went down. The Broncos were one of the teams engaged in such transactions, quietly releasing OLB D.J. Williams and QB Caleb Hanie to save over $7 million on their 2013 salary cap.

Williams was the Broncos’ first round pick in 2004 out of the University of Miami. Despite making a lot of headlines off the field, Williams was, for the most part, a productive player on it as he was the team’s leading tackler for the majority of his Bronco tenure. His time with the team ends on a sad note as he only played in 7 games last season due to failing a mandatory drug test. After the 2007 season, Williams signed a 6-year extension that was set to expire after this season. His cap hit this year was going to be $8,082,500. However, only $2,082,500 of that is dead money from various prorated bonuses, so the Broncos gain a net cap savings of $6 million from this release. The move makes sense from all angles as the team already has arguably the top pair of 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL with Von Miller (#1 ranked 4-3 OLB in 2012 on ProFootballFocus) and Wesley Woodyard (#14). Those two players account for $8,977,375 in cap space next year, so the money saved from Williams’ release pays for about 67% of the two much better OLB’s in 2013.

In a much less-heralded release, the Broncos also released QB Caleb Hanie. Perhaps best known for nearly leading a comeback victory for the Bears in the 2010 NFC Championship Game after replacing an injured Jay Cutler, Hanie has wavered in relative obscurity ever since. He did not play well replacing Cutler again in 4 starts during the 2011 season and spent last season as the #3 QB behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler in Denver. Hanie’s contract was set to expire after this season in which his $1.25 million base salary and $125,000 signing bonus proration meant a cap hit of $1.375 million. As a result of his release, $125,000 of dead money remains, so the team gains a net cap savings of $1.25 million.

In total, the Broncos save $7.25 million in cap space this year due to these two no-brainer releases.

UPDATE – if the Broncos do end up releasing Dumervil as the latest news suggests, his cap savings of $8.754 would bring the Broncos’ 2013 savings total fo $16.004 million when Williams and Hanie are included.