With the second round of cuts occuring as teams trim their rosters to 53 players I’ll create another thread to discuss any notable releases. So check back often as Ill update whenever a name player or two is released with some quick thoughts on the salary cap implications of the release.
Jason Babin, LB, Jets– I had expected Babin to make the team due to depth issues at the position, but at a $1.35 million salary the Jets must have felt better about some of the younger and lower cost options on the team.
Antone Smith, RB, Falcons– Atlanta re-signed Smith in March to a $1.4 million contract that included a $200,000 signing bonus. Atlanta saves $1.2 million by releasing Smith.
Henry Hynoski, FB, Giants– Hynoski was signed at the start of free agency to a new two year contract that guaranteed him $500,000 for the season. Hynoski will count for $400,000 against the cap this year and $125,000 in 2016. The Giants create $525,000 in space with the release, which means the net impact will be minimal since he’ll be replaced by someone earning at least $435,000. New York will receive $250,000 in credits if he earns at least that much elsewhere in 2015.
TJ Yates, QB, Falcons– Atlanta re-signed Yates this past offseson to be their backup QB and guaranteed him $375,000 in the process. As things turned out they decided to go in a different direction which does free up $1.125 million in salary cap room.
Craig Dahl, S, 49ers– An example of where the pre-emptive lowering of a contract value comes back to haunt you. The Niners could have released Dahl in March and just taken on $233,333 in dead money. Instead they lowered his cash pay by $400,000 and in return guaranteed $650,000 of his contract. Now they will take on a $933,334 dead money harge for Dahl and save just $600,000 against the cap. $450,000 of the dead money is guaranteed salary which the niners will get an offset credit for if he signs elsewhere and plays for the season.
Matt Shaughnessy, LB, Cardinals– Shaughnessy had already been paid a $500,000 roster bonus this year and another $125,000 workout bonus so this comes as a surpise since that money is completely lost to the team. He had a $1.45 million salary which I guess was too much for what may have been a 3rd string reserve and that will now be saved against the cap. Shaugnessy’s dead money charge will be $1.325 million. Because he earned more than $80,000 this offseason he will not be eligible for the minimum salary benefit designation if he signs elsewhere.
Phillip Wheeler, LB, 49ers– Wheeler was set to count $1 million against the cap this year, but had no guarantees or prorated money in his contract so the 49ers gain $1 million in cap room. Wheeler had a $130,000 roster bonus due in week 1 and $350,000 in playtime incentives this year. I could see San Francisco releasing him to simply sign him back at his base salary of $870,000 with no bonuses. That would reduce his cap hit to $585,000. He won’t earn more anywhere else.
Andy Levitre(Trade), G, Titans– Tennessee signed Levitre two years ago after a good season in Buffalo to a pretty absurd contract worth $7.8 million a year for reasons I never understood. His tenure was basically a bust and now he’s been traded to Atlanta per multiple outlets. The Titans will take on $6.3 million in dead money that will count $2.1 million against the cap in 2015 and $4.2 million next year. They will save $6.5 million this year which is the salary that the Falcons will take on assuming that no contract restructuring was done. Considering how poorly he had played I would think he may have accepted a pay cut to facilitate the trade. Id think his real worth is closer to $2.5-3.5 million.
Steve Weatherford, P, Giants– Set to earn $2.175 million this year the Giants were clearly going to move on from Weatherford if they found an alternative. They had redone Weatherfords contract last season to bring his salary down so he had an uphill battle to prove he needed to stick again. Overall the Giants will take on $1.775 million in dead money with the release, but that will be split over two years with $900,000 counting in 2015 and the $875,000 remainder in 2016. The Giants were one of the teams with a tight saary cap situation so freeing up $2.175 million against the cap frees them up for the year.
Darnell Dockett, DT, 49ers– The 49ers signed Dockett this offseason after he was released by the Arizona Cardinals. Dockett had a $2 million salary guarantee but no signing bonus. I would think San Francisco assumes he will sign somewhere for the veterans minimum so they will only eat $1 million in salary. Dockett had a $250,000 week 1 roster bonus and another $1.25 million in salary would have become guaranteed if he was active in week 1. If he does not sign back with the 49ers they will potentially carry $2.5 million for a player who never played a down with the team. San Francisco saves $1.25 million in cap room this year.
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.