Giants Release Tate and Mayo

The Giants have started their 2021 roster cutting by informing Golden Tate and David Mayo that they will be released this year.

The Tate signing in particular is one that the Giants probably wish they had back. It got off to a terrible start with Tate being suspended for four games for PEDs and finishing the year with under 700 yards. It got worse this year with Tate being unhappy with his usage and being sent home at some point. He finished this year with under 400 yards.

Tate’s signing was always a questionable signing. Tate had been traded mid season to the Eagles in 2018 and performed poorly with under 300 receiving yards in 8 games. The Giants still pursued him and signed him to a lucrative four year, $37.5 million contract of which about $23 million was guaranteed. Tate voided those guarantees with his suspension which game them an opportunity to release him in 2020 but the Giants decided to chase the contract instead paying $10.352 million against the cap for him. Tate was going to count for $10.852 million on the cap this year and his release will save the Giants $6.147 million.

David Mayo joined the Giants in 2019 on a minimum contract after he was cut by the 49ers. Mayo played in nearly 57% of the defensive snaps for the Giants that season and had 52 tackles. He was also a special teams mainstay. He signed a three year contract worth $2.8 million a year and $3.5 million guaranteed in 2020, but saw his defensive participation drop to under 20%.

Mayo was going to count for $2.3 million on the cap this year which is somewhat reasonable for a special teams standout. His cut is probably tied more to the expected cap downturn and the Giants needs to fill so many voids on their offensive and defensive units. They will save all of the $2.3 million with the cut.

The Giants were more or less right around the estimated cap limit so when these moves become official they should be around $8 million under the cap.

Raiders Looking to Trade Trent Brown; Release Gabe Jackson

The Las Vegas Raiders are trimming their roster in preparation for the 2021 season with Josina Anderson reporting that the team will cut guard Gabe Jackson and Ian Rapoport saying that they are also shopping right tackle Trent Brown.

The Jackson release was one that I expected to happen even before this year began. Jackson had a $9.6 million cap charge with no dead money if released. Jackson has been a solid player for the Raiders and bounced back from back to back years in which he did not play 16 games to play nearly every snap for the Raiders. Jackson had signed an $11 million per year contract back in 2017 that predated the Jon Gruden regime coming in. I would expect Jackson to land with a team pretty quickly once the release is official, though at a lower price tag.

Brown is one I speculated about earlier based on an astronomical contract for a right tackle and a constant injury history. Brown was the Raiders prized free agent signing in 2019 inking him to a four year contract that average $16.5 million a season, the largest contract ever (at the time) for an offensive lineman. They went that high because Brown was likely to have suitors at left tackle.

Brown has been pretty unreliable the last two seasons, starting off well enough in 2019 before a pec injury landed him on IR. He played 11 games and made the Pro Bowl that year but only played in five games this year, including a trip to the Covid list and a tough time coming back from it.

Brown’s contract was frontloaded with the Raiders picking up $36.75 million of the $66 million contract in the first two years. With only 16 games played that winds up one of the worst returns on investment in the league.

Brown’s contract is only $14 million this season and there are few tackles available in the NFL this year in free agency which gives the Raiders an opportunity here to find a team willing to take a chance this season. Brown may not have the best reputation in the NFL and the injuries are a clear problem but for a team with a gaping hole at left tackle Brown could be worth a gamble given how expensive the position has gotten since Brown signed the deal.

The Raiders should have about $2.5 million in cap space once Jackson’s release is official. If Brown if cut or traded that will jump to $16 million. The Raiders have a large number of players who could be cut in the coming two weeks to clear a good deal of cap room for free agency.

Jets Release Henry Anderson

The Jets announced that they have released veteran defensive lineman Henry Anderson. Anderson was in the final year of a three year, $25.2 million contract and was due to count $9.53 million on the salary cap. His release will free up $8.2 million in cap room.

The Jets had traded for Anderson in 2018 and he had a career year finishing with 7 sacks after racking up just 3 sacks in three years with the Colts. That led the Jets to sign him to the three year deal but he never recaptured that 2018 season. He had some injuries in 2019 and his playing time this year failed to hit 50%. This release had been expected since last season.

The release will put the Jets at about $75 million in salary cap space for 2021. They are only behind the Jacksonville Jaguars who have an estimated $82 million in cap room.

OTC 2021 Free Agency Guide

  • Welcome to our very first OTC Football Free Agency Guide, a 240 page PDF that not only offers a preview of some of the top free agents in 2021 but an in-depth review of how teams have successfully (and not so successfully) utilized free agency in the past. The book hits on many of the topics that we discuss on OTC or social media outlets when we get into opinions on free agency as well as a unique retroactive look at free agency that is an area not really focused on in the past.

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    Free Agent Outcomes From 2015 to 2019

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    Individual Positional Outcomes From 2014 to 2020

    We go back and look at every UFA who switched teams from 2014 to 2020 to identify contract expectations based on the size and length of a contract. Contracts are grouped in different ways to determine the expected years to be completed on a contract and ultimate contract outcome. We grouped every position into different salary tiers and compared the average various statistical performances in the two years leading up to free agency with how those groups performed in the year they switched teams and, where applicable, in future years.

    Free Agent Projections for 2021

    Finally, we have profiles of 77 unrestricted free agents that include thoughts on each player, their OTC valuation metric performance over the last two years, a list of five potential comparable players and how they compare statistically with the free agent and the key metrics of those contract to help frame the market of the player. Finally, we arrive at a projection that includes years, average annual value, and guarantee.

    If you are a premium subscriber you already have access to the OTC 2021 Football Free Agency Guide and you can download it from the link in the premium menu. If you are interested in becoming a premium subscriber you can read here about some of the features that it includes to get you more depth in evaluating contracts, seeing more data on team construction, or preparing for free agency.  If you do subscribe to premium you will be sent a second email with instructions for setting up the account. A few people have had these lost in spam filters and if that happens please let us know via the technical support form and we will get you the necessary link.


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    We hope you enjoy this addition to OTC and we thank you for continuing to make OTC one of your football related destinations every week.

Kyle Van Noy to be Released by the Dolphins

Last March Kyle Van Noy signed a big free agent contract worth $51 million dollars with $30 million “guaranteed”. Less than a year later the contract will turn to dust as the Dolphins have surprisingly informed Van Noy that he will be released this year.

Van Noy was set to count for $13.9 million on the salary cap in 2021 and his salary was to become fully guaranteed on the 3rd day of the league year. By cutting him they will avoid the guarantee and carry just $4.125 million on the salary cap as dead money, a savings of $9.775 million.

While Van Noy did not have a great season, he was a captain of the team and played in about 70% of the teams snaps. He recorded 6 sacks and 46 solo tackles, both numbers of which were on par with his play with Patriots the year before. Miami wound up paying Van Noy a whopping $15 million for just one season.

I am usually not very surprised by cuts in the NFL but I was a bit surprised at this one. The team was not in a salary cap crunch though this gives them more avenues to explore options. the move does open up the room for the team to explore the option of trading Tua Tagovailoa as part of a package for Deshaun Watson. The swap of those two players would cost the Dolphins about $18.3 million in cap space, so the extra $9.7M comes in handy for that.

It is also worth noting that free agency is loaded with veteran and younger pass rushers this season and perhaps they can find a cheaper option while using the extra cap space for other players. I don’t believe it is payroll related as there would have been talks of a pay cut if that was the case.

The Dolphins should have around $30 million in cap space in 2021 once the release becomes official. I would expect them to explore trades first before officially cutting him.

Bears to Release Buster Skrine

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Bears will release cornerback Buster Skrine.

Skrine had signed a three year contract worth $16.5 million with the Bears in 2019. Skrine had $5 million remaining on the contract and was set to count for $6.03 million on the salary cap. Though this was the final year of his contract Skrine will count for $3.3 million in dead money unless the team uses a June 1 designation to try to defer $2.2 million of acceleration. The reason for this is that the Bears utilized two void years in the contract to make the cap hit more manageable in 2019.

I would say that the June 1 is very unlikely as the Bears are hoping to be active in free agency and the June 1 would force them to carry the $6.03 million cap number until June 1st. Using a regular cut allows them to free up $2.7 million immediately. The release should put the Bears right in line to be under the salary cap if it comes it at the low numbers agreed on by the NFL and NFLPA.

Expect the Bears to be somewhat active in player restructure and veteran releases over the coming days. They have big cap charges for Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, and Eddie Jackson that can definitely be brought down with some creative salary cap adjustments. Jimmy Graham and the Bears tackles could all be potential cuts.

Washington to Release Alex Smith

Alex Smith’s release was pretty much inevitable, but according to Ian Rapoport and Kim Jones it sounds like the release will be official sooner rather than later.

Smith was going to count for $23.3 million on Washington’s salary cap this year, which is a very high number for someone who was going to, at most, compete for the starting job. By releasing Smith the team will create another $14.7 million in cap room bringing them to about $52 million in projected cap space in 2021, 4th highest in the NFL at the moment.

Smith will be free to sign anywhere in the league once he is released. Most likely he will be lumped in with all the veteran free agent QB’s who would be considered stopgap players or tutors to a young quarterback. That list includes the names Cam Newton, Andy Dalton. Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. There are also going to be some younger names available.

It is entirely possible he could get lost in the shuffle of all those names. I would wonder if both of his former teams would look at him as a backup over some of the others out there this season. Many of the veterans last offseason did not sign until late in the spring or in the summer, though more teams should be in the QB market this year.

Houston Texans Continue Trimming the Roster

On Friday Houston continued the trimming of their roster with the releases of two veterans in Center Nick Martin and Runningback Duke Johnson. The two transactions further move Houston into the positive side of available cap space, now approaching $16.1 million. These moves are not unexpected as new GM Nick Caserio works to clean up the salary cap mess left behind by Bill O’Brien.

Houston extended Nick Martin in August 2019 with an over valued 3 year extension with an APY of $11 million. This contract placed Martin in the Top 3 (at the time) paid Centers. Martin’s performance prior to the contract did not align with the contract value, and Martin’s performance continued to decline in 2019 and 2020. The release saves Houston $6.25 million in cap space and $7.5 million in cash.

Another questionable move in the 2019 offseason was the trade for Duke Johnson. Houston sent a 3rd round compensatory pick to Cleveland in exchange for the remaining three years of Johnson’s contract. Johnson is not a bell-cow type back, but should have been used as a third down back and a player that flexed out to wide receiver. Houston never utilized Johnson the way many envisioned. Totaling 1,304 total yards (rushing and receiving) over the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The release saves Houston $5.03 million in cap dollars and $5.15 million in cash.

Houston’s starting running back in David Johnson was also a topic of discussion on social media over the weekend. Reports from Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle noted Houston was looking to retain David Johnson under a revised contract for the 2021 season. Johnson has a scheduled cap charge of $8.5 million dollars with a scheduled (potential) cash earn of $9 million. Johnson does have a $2.1 million salary guarantee for 2021. If Johnson does remain in Houston, expect the cap and cash charge to come down to $3.5-$4.0 million including incentives.

These moves come on the heels of earlier releases with All Pro Defensive End J.J. Watt, veteran Guard Senio Kelmete, and Linebacker Peter Kalambayi.

Expect more roster moves for Houston in the coming days and weeks prior to free agency. The team needs to make a decision on veterans on Linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, Tight End Darren Fells, Guard/Center Zach Fulton, and Defensive Tackle Brandon Dunn.

Houston does have three remaining pending Restricted Free Agents in P.J. Hall (DI), Pharaoh Brown (TE), and A.J. Moore (DB). Reportedly Houston wants to retain all three players either on new contracts or original round tenders. Houston has already agreed to terms with Buddy Howell (RB), Dontrell Hilliard (RB), and Cornell Armstrong (DB). Those contracts are expected to be finalized this week.

Reportedly the team is expected to open negotiations with veteran inside linebacker Tyrell Adams this week. Adams is 29 coming off of a career season after filling in for McKinney, determining Adams’ value will be difficult for Caserio. And yes, Caserio is doing all the contract negotiations for Houston at this point in time.

The continued saga with Deshaun Watson continues with the latest report on Watson completing a remote meeting with new head coach David Culley. Reports from that meeting suggest Watson does not plan to report or play for Houston this year. Caserio continues his assertion that Houston does not plan to trade Watson. Expect this trend to continue up to the draft in late April. When draft night closes in, the team’s position may alter once the proposed packages become more real.