Podcast #7 of The Zack Moore Show Notes

Today’s podcast breaks down the quarterback market after the first few days of free agency where we saw Brock Osweiler get a four-year, $72 million contract with Houston and the Broncos trade for Mark Sanchez on a one-year, $4.5 million contract with only $1 million guaranteed to replace him for the time being and where the Jets allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to test the market and he found no takers.

We had both ends of the spectrum, teams overspending on unproven quarterbacks like the Texans and teams like the Broncos and Jets sticking to the kind of run-first, defensive formula that the 2000 Ravens and 2013 Seahawks provided the blueprint for from a salary cap perspective.

Continue reading Podcast #7 of The Zack Moore Show Notes »

Texans 2015 Salary Cap Outlook

Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $8.6M ($140M cap limit)

Roster Overview

Players Under Contract: 60
Pro Bowlers: 2
Unrestricted Free Agents: 9(5 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 16

Salary Cap Breakdown

Texans 2015 Salary Cap

Texans 2015 Salary Cap

Texans 2015 Salary Cap

Free Agents to Re-sign

I think that it’s a given the Texans will do what they can to re-sign tackle Derek Newton. They have worked hard to develop him and it seemed to come together last season for him.   At some point, perhaps this season, there will be a young QB on the roster and you don’t give these players up when that is the case. Mid tier money at the position is around $4 million…I don’t think Ryan Mallett will cost much to keep and he is at least worth exploring over camp and the preseason as a starting option. They were ready to give him the opportunity last season so it would make sense to do the same here. Brian Hoyer signed for less than $2 million with Cleveland when he was hoping for a job and I think this would not be much more expensive than that….Kendrick Lewis had a strong 2014 season and looks to be a mainstay of the secondary from this point forward. He should earn mid tier money which is around $5 million a season, a reasonable figure for what he can bring.

Free Agents to Let Walk

Kareem Jackson had a good season, but given some of the salaries that went into the position last year and lack of available talent he’ll be overpriced. If they believe he will continue to improve and want to move more veteran money around to sign him then they can do it but they are probably better off turning the position over…I think both Brooks Reed and the Texans would benefit from a mutual parting  of the ways. Reed never developed into a pass rusher and while he is versatile I believe they can find a better player by using his money elsewhere.

Contracts to Modify

This is the final year of Jonathan Joseph’s contract and he carries with it a $12.25M cap hit. Clearly that figure is never going to happen. This is the time to attempt to bring him down to the $6M salary range on an extension…Depending on what the team plans in free agency it is obvious that reworking JJ Watts contract will be discussed. He has a $21.969M cap hit this year which can easily be lowered, but if Houston can get through this season with him at that number they will have one of the great bargains in the NFL for the next four or five years…

Players to Consider Releasing

Andre Johnson wasn’t happy with the Texans last season and his production began decline. He’ll be 34 years old and the team frees up nearly $9 million in cap room by moving on. Johnson should still have some trade value provided he is willing to rework his contract, but if not it is probably best to release him and move on rather than overpaying him for the final two years of his career…Chris Myers has had a nice career, but with a $8 million cap charge there is no justification for keeping him. He is better suited to a different offensive scheme and the team saves $6 million when they release him. They could wait until after the draft to make the cut just to ensure they have another lineman…The Texans were prepared to stop using Ryan Fitzpatrick last season and they can save $3.25M by moving on. His job was to get them through a season which he did. They can explore trades with a team like the Jets but I would expect Houston to try one of the younger guys this season…Releasing Tyson Clabo saves $1.22 million.

Offseason Plan

The Texans had a nice season last year, but between playing in an easy division and having the new coach honeymoon year they shouldn’t stray from slowly turning the roster over with new talent because they finished better than expected. Though on paper they don’t have a great deal of cap room they have great flexibility in the contracts on their team at this stage and can certainly create it to bring in certain players that they may like.

Obviously the biggest need for the team is to find a quarterback that can be a long term solution. That probably means the draft though they could always take a chance on one of the disappointing young players like Jake Locker to see if they can get anything out of the player. Either way I think it is important for them to have young bodies competing for the position rather than having Fitzpatrick or a similar veteran taking snaps.

The offensive line is solid and if they can get Arian Foster to play 12 games next season they have the running game in place to take the pressure off the QB.  That should prevent them from a total collapse if they can’t find a QB that is as productive as Fitzpatrick. Foster played so well last season that you have to hope his body can hold up for one more year even though they continue to work him into the ground.

Houston will hope they get something out of Jadeveon Clowney, who was hurt most of the year and not very impressive when he did play.  If Clowney works out they can have an absolutely devastating pass rush, but if he struggles they have to hope he can at least stay heathy so they can explore a trade next season. At this stage their spending on defense is likely a barrier to any real activity in free agency on that side of the ball.

In free agency I would expect the Texans to look at a running back to take some of the load off of Foster as well as a Tight End to pair with Garrett Graham.  Wide receiver is a need but I feel as if that is a better draft target than going in free agency, though there will no shortage of free agent targets available. They need to come out of this offseason with more explosiveness on offense to be ready for the future. But the Texans should mainly be improving through the draft where they should be able to find more help in the secondary and at the offesnive skill positions to keep climbing forward.

Texans Links

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Should the Texans Release Ed Reed?


The Houston Texans officially benched struggling Safety Ed Reed yesterday which brings up many questions about his future in the NFL. With that in mind it should be best for all parties to simply release Reed from his contract to see if he can find another home.

I discussed a while ago how teams can attempt to use the waiver process as a means to essentially make a trade for cap space and for the Texans it is probably worth the risk even if no one bites on Reed. Reed will carry a salary cap charge of $5.333 million in 2014 which includes a $4 million base salary. They will free up $2.666 million in salary cap space by releasing him and clearly when you factor in both the $4 million cash savings with the cap savings his future in Houston is already set in stone. Releasing Reed now or in February has the same salary cap effect in 2014.

Reed currently earns two sets of payments from the Texans. The first is a fully guaranteed base salary that is paid out as $58,824 per game and totals $470,588 for the remainder of the year. If Reed was to go unclaimed the Texans would have to cut Reed a check for that amount. Reed also has a roster bonus that is paid at $62,500 for each week that he dresses for the game. This bonus is not guaranteed so the Texans would save themselves a potential $500,000 by releasing Reed. They could also avoid that payment by making him inactive on Sundays, but that would make what is likely a bad situation worse.

Because the weekend is upon us the Texans would still be responsible this weeks pay. If Reed was claimed by a contending team the Texans would save both the $411,765 guarantee and the $437,500 in bonus payments. Assuming he would be replaced by a rookie the net salary cap savings for Houston would be $682,500, a significant sum for a team with a delicate salary cap situation moving forward. If he went unclaimed the savings would be nearly $270,735 making it make financial sense to move on from a player with no future or real ties to the Houston franchise.

I would think it is possible that a playoff caliber team would take a flier on Reed for the balance of his salary and possible bonus payments to ensure they were entitled to his contract rather than allowing him to be a free agent. If Reed immediately signed with a club as a free agent he would earn $387,059  for the balance of the season so a team would really only be adding the roster bonus money to the equation. I could see a team making that additional investment if they believed he could still contribute.

Houston really has nothing to lose by releasing Reed. It gives him the chance to go elsewhere and finish his career while the Texans will get some cap relief and avoid any problems that may occur with him playing sparingly on a bad team.  The Texans don’t owe Reed anything, but he is a sunk cost at this point and they will not be getting any value from him anyway in 2013. If they can save some money from this point forward its the best decision the team can make.



OTC Power Rankings: Week 7


With week 7 complete we have our new rankings up and the Broncos reclaim the top spot.  Seems kind of weird since they lost this week while the Seahawks won right?  The reason that this happened is because a number of teams that the Broncos beat this season all had stronger defensive statistical showings that gave them a bigger boost in their scoring ranking than their loss in defensive rankings. Plus they added another strong team to the schedule with a win against the Colts who jumped into the top 3 with a win against the Broncos. The Colts also happen to be the most efficient team in the NFL in terms of dollars spent per win.

The Chiefs, despite a 7-0 record, fell a few slots in part because Green Bay and San Francisco had more impressive weeks and because their close win against the Texans brought their rankings down a hair. Outside of those top teams there was little movement overall in the top 15.

At the bottom of the NFL the Giants and Texans were able to jump out from the 30 and 31 slots while the Buccaneers and Vikings tumbled. The no-show last night killed the Vikings rankings as the Giants were one of the highest points allowed teams in the NFL and they did nothing against them. Throwing the Giants stats into their schedule with such a poor offensive showing really destroyed them. Right now they look to spend about $41 million per projected win. Outside of Jacksonville that’s the worst in the NFL, by a pretty good margin. They may want to consider moving Jared Allen if possible since he has the highest salary on the team.

Power Rankings, Week 7

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Dollars per


Nine Teams Need to Make Cap Related Moves


The NFL salary cap is a major concern for teams at two times every season. The first is the most talked about time, which is the month of February when teams are ripping apart rosters to become salary cap compliant for the new League Year and to create the maximum possible cap room for free agency. Once free agency ends the overall importance of the cap is low because only the top 51 contracts plus dead money charges count towards the salary cap.

The second most important time for the cap is right now.  By 4 PM on September 4 the cap valuations change. For salary cap purposes rosters expand to include everyone under contract. At a minimum that pushes the roster to 53 players plus a Practice Squad, which every team fields. The cost of two players adds at least $810,000 to the roster and a PS costs a team another $816,000.  For teams that have players on Reserve lists such as PUP or IR the salary for the players who are replacing them will now count. For some teams that can be an additional 4 to 5 players that will now be accounted for. It quickly adds up and it all adds up by Wednesday.

While most teams want to carry upwards of $5 million in season salary cap space for emergencies, I just want to focus on the teams that will be around the $3 million mark come Wednesday based on how things stand right now. Based on the top 51 cap room as of the morning of the 29th , nine teams will have  less than $3 million in cap space on Wednesday. Of those nine, four will not be cap compliant unless players inside the top 51 are released.  Those four are, in order, the Rams, Chiefs, Texans, and Redskins. The other five teams are the Vikings, Seahawks, Chargers, Giants, and Bears.

With that in mind I wanted to look at these teams and moves they may need to make cap space.

Rams– The Rams are projected to about $1.2 million over the salary cap based on their current roster construction. I would not expect the Rams to release anyone of note but instead restructuring deals for cap relief. The most likely candidates are Cortland Finnegan ($9 million base salary), Sam Bradford ($9 million base salary), and Chris Long ($7.25 million base salary).  Long already restructured once so its less likely they would go to him again. With questions marks surrounding Bradford and already over $10 million in dead money on the books in 2014, Finnegan is the guy to watch. Converting $7 million of his base into a signing bonus will save the team $5.5 million in cap room and increase his 2015 dead money from $2 million to $5.5 million, which could be considered acceptable.

Chiefs– The Chiefs will be around $500,000 over the cap if moves are not made in their top 51. There are minimal avenues for savings for the team, due to high offseason spending and the fact that they retained Branden Albert on the Franchise tag rather than extending or trading him. There is no one of note that could be released or even threatened with release to really help them. The logical solution would seem to be having Tamba Hali restructure his contract. He carries a $12.25 million dollar base salary and just cutting and prorating the difference would save the team about $4 million in cap room.

If they fail to reach an agreement the other candidate is Alex Smith, and for long term cap planning probably makes more sense to approach than Hali. Smith earns $7.5 million this season and next season. Because the contract only has two years remaining proration is limited over two years, but that could be enough to easily save at least $3 million in cap this season by converting $6 million of salary to a bonus. That would make his cap charge just $10.5 million in 2014, still a bargain for a starting QB. Though neither side will want to extend that deal they could also go the void year route for proration purposes if they wanted.

Texans– Houston will only be about $300,000 over the cap, though that number does not include the replacement body they likely need to carry to cover Antonio Smith’s one game suspension, which would increase the cap to $700,000 over. They could carry 52 players for the week for cap purposes if necessary. The Texans are an older team so extensions to players like Wade Smith are not really a possibility. Jonathan Joseph makes $7.5 million this season and might be a person they look at for a bonus conversion, though that will put the last two seasons of his contract very high in terms of cap charges. This could be a team that also ends up releasing some of the veteran players close to minimum salaries to pick up small amounts of cap.

Redskins– Washington will be right up against the cap and don’t really have much in the way of high salaries to reduce as their situation is compromised by the cap penalties more than expensive contracts. LB London Fletcher is the one player who should be given a pay cut from his $5.5 million base, but that seems unlikely at this point. His contract already contains numerous void years for proration purposes so it’s possible they could simply defer the cap charges to next season. The other person to watch out for would be WR Santana Moss.  Releasing Moss will clear $2.25 million from the books. The team could also consider asking Chris Baker, playing on a non-guaranteed $1.323 million tender to reduce his salary by a few hundred thousand.

The Other Five (Bears, Giants, Chargers, Seahawks, Vikings)

I lumped these four together since they should all be cap compliant even after the rosters expand but wanted to touch on them briefly

Chicago we have touched on many times before and just yesterday wrote about why moving WR Earl Bennett is a likely move. The Bears have multiple avenues for cap relief if they want it via extensions, but it seems as if they will weed out some of the lower cost players like Bennett that they feel will not make a contribution rather than extending players.

The Giants cap was dealt a big blow when they lost their starting Safety for the season, but they should be ok. Players in danger could be Bear Pascoe, Louis Murphy, Aaron Ross, etc…They could also work with Chris Snee or Antrell Rolle if needed for cap space….

The Chargers could be in trouble because they already have a massive list of players on IR and PUP. Releasing Max Starks would save the team over $2 million based on cap treatment of LTBE’s and releasing WR Eddie Royal would save $3 million. Royal might be asked to take a pay cut instead.

Seattle is not in terrible cap position, though they currently have a IR number that will eat into it a bit if settlements are not reached. I’d imagine they will continue to cut veterans for cap relief. Releasing special teamer Heath Farwell saves the team $1.5 million and looking at FB Michael Robinson could save $2.5 million. Both could also be asked to take paycuts.

The Vikings might look to simply cut ties with some projected backups making over the minimum (Desmond Bishop, Fred Evans, AJ Jefferson) if they felt they needed more cap space. They will gain some added cap room once Jerome Feltons suspension is official and considering they are right around $3 million in room may not see the need to make any moves.


NFL Salary Cap Space Update: July 19


We keep track of the salary cap (or at least try to) on an everyday basis, so I thought it might be good to do a weekly recap of the effects of the weeks cap moves as we make a turn towards training camp time where the transaction sheet will likely begin to pick up pace.

Moves from the Week:

Cincinnati Bengals– The Bengals signed DE Carlos Dunlap to a 5 year contract extension worth just under $40 million dollars and also locked up their first round draft pick Tyler Eifert to a standard 4 year deal. Dunlap’s contract was heavily frontloaded and cost the Bengals $5,418,200 in cap room. Between he and Eifert the Bengals spent $6,439,231in cap space.  There should be no worries as the moves left them with nearly $15.55 million in cap room, 7th most in the NFL.

Green Bay Packers– The Packers extension of S Morgan Burnett reduced their 2013 cap space by $1,650,000, the amount of Burnett’s proration attributed to his $8.25 million dollar signing bonus. With $14.67 million in cap room the Packers have the 8th largest amount of unused cap in the NFL.

Denver Broncos– The Broncos lost $2.72 million in cap room with the signing of LT Ryan Clady to a heavily frontloaded contract and vesting future guarantees. Already counting $9.828 million against the cap the Broncos agreed to pay Clady a $10.5 million dollar roster bonus to keep his future charges low rather than looking to build carryover cap space this season. Denver has $7.39 million in cap room.

Jacksonville Jaguars– The Jaguars came to terms with rookie WR Ace Sanders on a four year contract. Jacksonville lost $45,362 in cap room following the signing. The Jaguars still have $22.9 million in cap space, 2nd most in the NFL.

Detroit Lions– The Lions gained $321,000 in cap room with the release of RB Jahvid Best and they will now carry $1.1 million in dead money on the 2014 salary cap. The Lions have $5.22 million in cap room.

Dallas Cowboys– The Cowboys gained  $225,000 in cap room when Josh Brent retired. Dallas can also go after his proration from the year, $11,889, though I can’t imagine they would do so.

New England Patriots– The Patriots released WR Donald Jones to save themselves from paying a $200,000 reporting bonus due at the start of training camp. Jones was set to count for $1.131 million against the cap in 2013. Releasing him created $576,250 in cap space pushing the Patriots to $9.79 million.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers– The Buccaneers traded troubled cornerback Eric Wright to the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional late round pick. The Bucs got off great with Wright as off the field problems saw his guarantees for 2013 void, which allowed them to push him into a paycut. With more legal troubles Wright was sent packing creating $945,000 worth of cap space in the process. Tampa has he 4th most cap space in the league at $19.22 million.

San Francisco 49’ers– The 49’ers were on the other end of the trade with the Bucs, taking on Eric Wright and his $1.5 million dollar salary. The addition of Wright reduced San Francisco’s cap room by $945,000. The 49’ers now have $4.49 million in cap room and limited space in 2014, fueling speculation that the team may cut CB Carlos Rogers, saving over $4 million in 2013 and $5.1 million in 2014, giving the team much more breathing room as they prepare for an extension with QB Colin Kaepernick after the season.

Three to Keep an Eye On

St. Louis Rams– With just $214,088 in cap room the Rams do not have enough cap space to function once the regular season begins. They will need to restructure contracts or make a few cuts to be able to function in the regular season.

Washington Redskins– At $1.4 million in cap space the Redskins have the 2nd least amount of space in the NFL. Once rosters expand to 53 and teams spend $1 million on a practice squad the Redskins will be forced to make moves to be cap compliant in September. They should have over $10 million in cap room in 2014 so they may look to push some money into next year if they do not want to make any cuts.

Houston Texans– Houston still needs to sign their first three draft picks, which will eat into their $2.8 million in cap room leaving them with around $1.6 million in room when the season begins. Add in two contracts and a Practice Squad and you get the idea- Houston can’t stand pat and do nothing over the next few weeks.

Click Here to View The Current Cap Space for All 32 Teams 



Five Teams that Need to Create Cap Space


Earlier today we looked at the teams that were set to gain cap room on June 2nd and how that would move teams such as the Oakland Raiders from the danger zone to being comfortable enough to function once the regular season begins. What about the rest of the NFL and teams who are not going to benefit for the June 1 cut?

I had written a piece a month or two back detailing the difference in reported vs effective cap space. Feel free to follow the link, but to summarize we need to account for the fact that every team in the NFL at this point needs enough money to, at a minimum, expand the roster from 51 to 53 players and field a Practice Squad. In addition most NFL teams still need to sign their first round draft selection(only 4 have done so thus far), all of whom will impact the salary cap. The two additional players will cost a minimum of $810,000 and the full Practice Squad will cost $816,000, so $1.626 million is almost mandatory to function come September. So a number of teams are in danger. Lets look at the top 5:

Washington Redskins– Washington has $1.413 million in cap room and will gain about $170,000 more when Rob Jacksons suspension begins at the start of the year. Luckily they do have all their rookies signed but right now their effective cap room is -$28,000 and that’s assuming they don’t have to replace anyone during the course of the year on IR or PUP. The Skins have already reworked a number of deals to get under the cap and the logical move would be to release London Fletcher at some point during training camp.  Cutting Fletcher should free up $4.8 million in cap room after June 1. I would think its going to be a big uphill battle for him to make the team just based on finances alone. If they intend to keep him he needs to take a paycut otherwise the Redkins will need to approach their defensive or offensive linemen about restructuring their contracts.

Chicago Bears– Like the Redskins they have their entire draft class under contract so that is a big help. Their effective cap space is $145,000 so they likely need to free up another $2-3 million to begin the season. The Bears are an interesting team, probably worthy of their own post, because they are in limbo. They are in many ways a rebuilding team looking to rebrand itself, but at the same time they won 10 games in 2012 and have a  number of high priced players on the team. Their logical cap relief points are to work on extensions for QB Jay Cutler, WR Brandon Marshall, and DT Henry Melton. Cutler and Melton are in their walk year and Marshall is under contract for one more season. CB Charles Tillman, a Pro Bowler last season at 31, is in the final year of his contract while DE Julius Peppers carries a massive cap hit that could be renegotiated downward. LB Lance Briggs also carries a high cap charge with 2 years remaining on his deal The question is do any of them factor into the future and if the answer is no the Bears will have to look further down the roster at potential cuts such as WR Devin Hester or K Robbie Gould to create the extra space they need.

San Francisco 49’ers– San Francisco sits with $2.6 million in cap room but still needs to sign their 1st round pick and also will need to account for the fact that at the least WR Michael Crabtree is going to wind up on temporary IR meaning they need to carry at least 54 players. Their effective cap is -$406,000 right now. As we discussed before extending DE Justin Smith would be an option but he is at a negotiating high point at a very advanced age which may scare the 49’ers. Tarell Brown and Donte Whitner are both in walk year, but as some pointed out to me on Twitter Whitner would likely not be a candidate for extension. Brown’s salary is probably not high enough to create the room San Francisco needs. Cutting Whitner saves the team $3.85 million in cap now that workouts are complete. That is the cushion they need to be cap compliant come September. Another option would be to look to bring Frank Gore’s salary down and throw him a bit more guaranteed over a 3 year period. Not likely but I guess its another option.

Houston Texans– Houston has  $2.8 million in cap to work with and still has their top 2 rookies to sign putting their effective cap space at only $300,000. Andre Johnson and Antonio Smith are two names they might be able to look to for cap relief. This is Smith’s last season under contract. Brian Cushing is a name that could also be extended but the cap relief there would likely be minimal and the same goes for G Wade Smith. This is a team that could be forced to make a tough decision or two either cutting a player they like or being forced to rework the contract of CB Jonathan Joseph, a good player but one whose price tag is probably now too high relative to the market. Like the Bears Houston is in a bit of a tough spot, though they are not in rebuilding mode. Most of their bigger price players are all important pieces of the team so its hard to envision them releasing anyone, but at the same time you have to be aware or your limits and the damage that can be done to the future by maintaining the status quo on a team that may have peaked two years ago when Matt Schaub got injured.

New York Giants– Sitting with $3.3 million in cap room Id consider the Giants the last team that might be in trouble. They still have their first round pick to sign and a strong chance that Henry Hynoski starts the year on a reserve list which puts their effective cap space right around $400,000. The Giants are trying to give it one last go this year and have loaded their team up with Minimum Salary Benefit veterans and reworked contracts of some veteran players to try to keep the group as intact as possible. The Giants have three players with over $9 million in cap charges, the highest of which is Eli Manning at $20.65 million. The Giants most likely want to hold off as long as possible on doing anything with his contract. The most logical candidate is Chris Snee who has reworked his contract numerous times with the Giants in his career and with 2 seasons remaining on his contract could be a cap casualty is he doesn’t look good in camp. His cap figure is $11 million with dead money of $4.3 million if cut beyond June 1. Antrel Rolle should also be in danger for similar reasons. The Giants situation may get even more complicated because they want to sign WR Victor Cruz to a long term contract and it seems as if WR Hakeem Nicks is going to want a new deal done as well. That puts the team in a position where cuts make more sense than adding more dead money to the 2014 cap by way of restructures.