There are still about 500 moves that teams will make over the next few hours to bring their rosters down from 75 to 53, but many teams got to work yesterday, so lets review some of the action.
The Bills biggest moves on Friday came when they announced that they were placing WR Brad Smith and QB Kevin Kolb on season ending IR. I have seen many people mention that Kolb could retire or potentially take an injury settlement. Neither should occur. Kolb’s concussion was considered career threatening. By maintaining a spot on IR when the season completes Kolb is eligible for injury protection under the CBA because he is also under contract to Buffalo for the 2014 season. If Kolb’s injury from 2013 renders him unable to compete in 2014, 50% of his $2 million base salary is protected. He can earn another $1 million by simply being on the roster in week 17. If he accepts a settlement the Bills will be freed from this liability. If he voluntarily retires he will give up this payment and perhaps be asked to repay the Bills a $1 million dollar signing bonus. So it is in his best interests to maintain a presence even if all sides know he will never play again. Kolb lost a $250,000 roster bonus this year because he was placed on IR.
Smith had renegotiated his contract this season to improve his chances to make the team and I wonder if this will mark the end of his career. Smith was drafted in 2006 and was a good kick returner for the Jets while also filling in occasionally as “wildcat” QB. The Bills took a chance signing Smith feeling that he could do more and paid him accordingly, but, as is often the case, paying a specialist to become a complete player did not work. By no means was he guaranteed to make the team this season and it would be surprising if he was brought back next year. Smith has a $1.4 million base salary in 2014.
T Max Starks might have been the biggest name to be released yesterday when the Chargers gave him his walking papers. I had discussed Starks as a logical cut for San Diego because of the teams tight cap situation. Starks’ contract was only worth $1 million but it contained a large incentive that did count on the salary cap and pushed his charge over $2 million which made his cap number too high for the team. The sides could have removed the incentive, but the Chargers probably don’t see much benefit in paying him to be a backup.
The Seahawks released FB Michael Robinson because of salary cap concerns. He was another name I discussed and his $2.5 million dollar salary made him an easy target for release. I had speculated Heath Farwell could also be released due to cap concerns and he would be a name to potentially watch today when they make their final cuts. He is set to earn $1.5 million.
Arizona released a number of veteran players including special teamer Reggie Walker. Walker was set to earn $950,000 which may have been too much for a special teams ace. Arizona had around $6.5 million in cap room and while not a concerning amount it is likely under the mark the team would like to have. The release of a number of veterans saved the squad nearly $1 million in cap yesterday. The bigger concern for Arizona though was placement of their first round selection, Johnathan Cooper, on IR.
While these were the bigger name moves on the day there were many disappointed people yesterday who received their walking papers. Some were given hope of the Practice Squad while others were just clean cuts. Some teams will use practice to continue to evaluate and make decisions before the 4PM deadline today. For those who make it there will be a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately the NFL is always moving and many of the players excited tonight will find out on Monday that the stay on the roster is short as another name hits the waiver wire and they are replaced before the season begins.
Unfortunately I won’t be able to keep up with the cuts on the website today, but by tomorrow we should get the rosters broken down into their final forms. The team web pages will look a lot different as will the real practice facilities which will look barren from all the summer names that were part of the NFL for a few months.
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.