The injuries have quickly begun to pile up in the NFL now that teams are moving into the more physical phases of training camp. This was a major worry this year, more than any other, because the pandemic limited offseason training. A similar situation occurred in 2011 when the NFL locked the players out of offseason programs and this was expected to be even worse. Here is a look at the players who will likely miss all of a major part of the season
Trae Waynes, Cornerback, Bengals
Waynes tore his pec and expected to be out until at least the winter months of the season. The Bengals had signed Waynes to a very bullish three year contract that averaged $14 million a season. Cincinnati agreed to pay nearly half the contract in the first year. He likely will not get much an opportunity to prove anyone wrong this year unless the Bengals are in a playoff race in December and have him come back. Waynes counts $10 million on the salary cap in 2020.
Robert Alford, Cornerback, Cardinals
Alford also tore his pec yesterday and should be done for the year. This is the second major injury in two years for Alford who will likely play zero games for Arizona in the two seasons he has been a member of the team. Alford was signed last year after being cut by the Falcons to a somewhat surprising three year, $22.5 million contract. His salary cap figure this year is $7.5 million. It would be hard to believe that the Cardinals would bring him back next year. He has a $9 million cap number and just $1.5 million in dead money if released.
Gerald McCoy, Defensive Tackle, Cowboys
McCoy tore his quad during drills and will likely miss the entire year with the Cowboys. McCoy signed a three year, $18 million contract with Dallas this offseason and was expected to be a major contributor to the team’s defensive front. Dallas did protect themselves somewhat for injury with $750,000 per year being tied to health. McCoy’s cap number is $4.25 million this year but Dallas will get a $750,000 credit applied to the 2021 salary cap. McCoy has $3.5 million of his 2021 $5 million salary protected so he should get a chance to play with Dallas next year. Dallas will have to decide if its necessary to go into free agency and see if they should take a shot on someone like a Damon Harrison for the year.
Jalen Hurd, Wide Receiver, 49ers
People expected a big year from Hurd in the 49ers offense but he will miss the entire season with a knee injury. Hurd, a third round draft pick in 2019, will now miss the first two years of his career. This is usually a hard, but not impossible, hurdle to overcome. Hurd will count for just under $973K on the cap this year and will be around $1.16 million on the cap next year.
Iman Marshall, Cornerback, Ravens
The second year pro tore his ACL and will miss the 2020 season. Marshall was a fourth round pick of the Ravens in 2019 and spent most of last year injured as well. Because Marshall was a 4th round selection his contract will likely split giving the Ravens $250,000 in salary cap relief this year. Marshall will have around a $1 million cap hit next year. Like Hurd this is a very difficult way to start a career.
One thing to note is that not all of the players who are hurt will immediately be put on IR. If there is a slight possibility that the player could be activated for a playoff run it will make sense to keep them on the roster until final cutdowns. If they go on IR at that point they can be activated later in the year. If there is also a slight chance the NFL pushes the year longer into the winter due to the pandemic it would make sense to hold off on an official IR designation.
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.