This time of year, teams have completed their draft selections and are looking toward their mini-camp and training camp rosters. The new rookies who have something to prove sometimes overtake the veteran players who are already on the fringe of the roster. Other times teams are looking to go in a new direction with their newly fired coaching staffs and front offices.
Teams will likely clear up some cap space in order to work on extensions, sign late free agent additions and complete their rookie signings. Players who have less guaranteed money can be cut easier because of the smaller dead cap hit in place. The combination of a young wave of players with cleaning up the salary cap can cause teams to release veterans who are on the end of their deals.
Taylor Lewan, Titans OT:
Taylor Lewan’s contract keeps him with the Titans through the 2023 season. His guaranteed money is set to run out this year with only a 1.79m signing bonus, per Spotrac. His base salary throughout the 2022 season is 12.9m. If they decide to cut him post June 1st it would leave the Titans with a 1.79m dead cap hit and free up 12.9m in cap space for the 2022 season.
With minimal guaranteed money left on his deal in 2023 Lewan will most likely want a deal to ensure long term stability, or the team will have to move on. The Titans ended up drafting Nicholas Petit-Frere in the third round of the draft last week. If they decide to move on from Lewan they have a back-up they feel will become a role player on their line.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers QB:
This offseason there has been conversations about the 49ers moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo in order for Trey Lance to take over the offensive reins. There have been talks of Garoppolo being traded but if it comes down to it, they will most likely cut him due to his contract structure.
Garoppolo is set to have a cap hit of roughly 27m with a 1.4m signing bonus in 2022. If he is not traded the 49ers could release him after June 1st and only take on a dead cap hit of 1.4m, per Spotrac. Although the 49ers might end up trading Garoppolo, the option of cutting him is still on the table. This ultimately comes down to if there is a suitor for him on the trade market and how they want to go forward with Trey Lance this year.
Connor McGovern, Jets iOL:
The Jets signed Connor McGovern back in 2020 to a 3-year deal worth 27m. This season is the last year on his contract and the Jets will be faced with the decision to extend him or not this season. McGovern is set to have a cap hit of 10.3m this year with a base salary of 9.0m and a signing bonus of 1.3m.
If he is released post June 1st the Jets would take on 1.3m dead cap hit and end up saving 9m on their 2022 salary cap. The Jets have 7 interior linemen on their roster right now which gives them flexibility to move on from McGovern if they feel saving the salary cap money is a better option.
Tyler Boyd, Bengals WR:
The Bengals’ talented receiving core has been spearheaded by Tyler Boyd since before they even drafted Joe Burrow. Boyd’s current contract has him signed through the 2023 season. His 2022 base salary is set at 8.25m with bonuses bringing his cap hit up to 10.3m. If they decide to cut him post June 1st, they will end up taking on a 2.8m dead cap hit while saving roughly 7.3m against their cap.
The Bengals have gathered an extremely talented receiving core in Jamar Chase and Tee Higgins. This gives them the talent flexibility to release Boyd. Avoiding the majority of his cap charges gives them cap flexibility to sign late released players and give extension to players
James Bradberry, Giants DB:
The Giants’ new front office staff is looking to reshape their roster and rumor has it James Bradberry might be the first veteran to be cut post-draft. Bradberry is entering the final year of his deal where he is set to have a 21.8m cap hit. This makes him the second highest cap hit on their roster, following Leonard Williams at 27m.
If the Giants decide to cut him before June 1st, they will have to deal with an 11.7m dead cap hit which will free up 10.1m in their 2022 cap. Bradberry’s release post June 1st would result in a saving of 11.5m but would carry a dead cap hit of 10.3m in 2022 and 1.3 in 2023. The Giants are looking to build from the ground up and releasing Bradberry might be the way this regime sets a new standard.