NFL Cutdown Day 2015 Part I: Salary Cap Considerations

Its not often that the first cutdown day in the NFL brings with it much news, but over the last 24 hours there have been a few moves with cap implications and there may be more to come as teams need to reach 75 players by Tuesday at 4PM. I’ll keep this as a running thread for updates on some of the name players that are moving on from their teams over the next day so to discuss the cap implications so check back every now and then for updates.

Phil Taylor, DT, Browns– An out of left field cut as Tayor had his $5.477 million salary guaranteed because the Browns didn’t cut him before the start of the League Year.  Thats just poor planning by the Browns. Much like the Bears with Jennings, expect the Browns to get some relief when Taylor signs elsewhere. How much remains to be seen, but it likely wont come close to matching the salary. The Browns have probably eaten more draft pick money than any team in recent memory.

Here is a bit of an update on Taylor. Apparently he and the Browns reached some type of injury settlement, which is an interesting development. While his $5.477 million guarantee was subject to offsets whatever settement was made will not be. How much will tell us what Taylor believes his worth on the market it because the settlement plus new contract needs to pay him more to justify it. Im not sure if this means Taylor thinks he can play and the Browns dont or vice versa because it would seem Taylor felt the best option is free agency over IR and the full guarantee. Jay Ratliff had a situation somewhat like that in Dallas where Dallas seemed to believe he was milking an injury and eventually released him while Ratliff would eventually sign with the Bears and begin playing a few weeks later.

Trent Richardson, RB, Raiders– Oakland bought into the draft status of Richardson despite the fact that he cant really  play which they quickly learned during training camp. Richardson had received $600,000 guaranteed from Oakland and another $150,000 workount bonus, all of which will count against the cap this year. Rather than throwing more money into a failing investment the Raiders will save another $1,125,000 by cutting him.

Brandon Fields, P, Dolphins– It was evident in the offseason that Miami did not feel Brandon Fields wasnt in thier long term plans when they had him take a paycut of over $1 million, but they did guarantee $500,000 in the restructure. When you factor in a $100,000 workout bonus the team should have just cut him in March. Miami will take on $870,000 in dead money this year and $770,000 in 2016. They create $1.65 million in cap room this year and over $3.5 million in 2016.

Dave Zastudil, P, Cardinals– On a team with tight cap space and a cheaper option at punter it makes little sense to carry a punter at a $1.6 million cap charge. Arizona must have needed to see others work in the preseason because Zastudil did have a hefty workout bonus, but they will still save nearly $1.1 million in cap charges. Zastudil will count for $542,500 against the Cardinals cap this year.

Lorenzo Alexander, LB, Cardinals– Alexander was in the final year of his contract with Arizona and was unlikely to fit into the future for the team. At this point saving $1.4 million in cap is likely more beneficial than having the Alexander on the roster for just this season. $600,000 will remain on the Cardinals books from Alexander.

Chris Clark, G, Broncos– The Broncos traded Chris Clark to the Houston Texans. Clark is in the final year of his contract and carried a salary of $1.4 million which will now transfer to Houston. Denver will keep $225,668 in dead money on the books and save $1.4 million in cap.

Fred Jackson, RB, Bills– This release seemed to catch some off guard, but once the Bills made a large commitment to LeSean McCoy it didnt really make sense to have Jackson also on the team, regardless of his history in Buffalo. The Bills need the cap space for 2016 to avoid going overboard in resturctured contracts in order to be cap compliant, especially once they are forced to use the franchise tag on Marcell Dareus. They will gain $2.5 million in the release.

Josh Scobee, K, Jaguars– The Jaguars were able to trade Scobee to Pittsburgh, who is going through a rash of injuries at the kicker position. This is a bold move for Pittsburgh as they will take on $3.425 million in salary for Scobee and have over $7 million committed to the position, one where you can often find a veteran for the minimum to do an adequete job. It is entirely possible they could try to move Scobee’s salary down or perhaps the Jaguars at some of the cost in return for a better draft pick as the Steelers will now be relatively close to the cap limit once the regular season begins. Scobee is in the final year of his deal so the Jaguars gain $3.425M in cap space to add to their huge carryover for next year.

Donald Thomas, G, Colts– The often injured Thomas was finally healthy enough to be released. Given the Colts releases Gosder Cherilus for not taking a paycut there is no reason to think they would have kept Thomas this year at a salary of $3.5 million. The Colts will take on dead money charges of $250,000 in each of the next two seasons, but will gain $3.5 million in cap room this year and next year. That $7 million should be set aside for Andrew Luck’s extension.

Tim Jennings, CB, Bears– A surprising cut because Jennings’ entire $4.4 million salary is guaranteed for the year and will be paid by Chicago even though he is off the team. Jennings will sign somewhere for the veterans minimum ($970,000) which will reduce the Bears payments to him by that amount. Overall they will take on $5.25 million in dead money this year and $1.5 million next year. The teams saves $0 against the cap in 2015 and cut $4.25 million in 2016 costs.

JD Walton, C, Dolphins– The Dolphins signed Walton this offseason and gave him a $250,000 bonus to sign with the team. Walton had been released by the Giants and didnt seem to impress enough here to land a spot as a backup which was a bit surprising since Mike Pouncey was a bit banged up. The Dolphins clear $750,000 and will keep $275,000 in dead money on the books for the year.

DeVier Posey, WR, Jets– The Jets traded for Posey on draft day, though I got the feeling he was just a throw in as part of moving down since they gained additional picks in the trade. The team saves $768,000 by moving on.

Questions about this article? Reach Jason Fitzgerald on Twitter at @Jason_OTC