NFL Analysis


6 min read

Surprise Players Who Could Be Available After 2024 NFL Draft

New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore runs with the ball
New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore (23) runs with the football after intercepting a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The initial big waves of free agency have passed. The 2024 NFL Draft is just more than a week away so remaining available veteran players isn't the league's focus. But smart teams are always keeping an eye on veterans who are still available after the draft. 

It's when a team like the Baltimore Ravens strikes and finds value in undervalued veterans. Current free agents aren’t the only players who could be available. The draft and other team-building avenues open up more chances for players to hit the open market.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few names that could be available after the draft and into the summer.

Surprise Players Available Post-Draft

John Franklin-Myers, Edge, New York Jets

The New York Jets are one of four teams with negative effective salary cap space, per Over The Cap. That means they need to move some salary to sign their draft class. 

According to OTC’s figures, they need to clear about $2.8 million. A small contract restructure could easily accomplish that, but it would also keep them close to the cap and potentially in a bind throughout the season.

John Franklin-Myers' base salary is $13.3 million for 2024, but just $3.2 million is guaranteed. After a trade for Haason Reddick, Franklin-Myers could see his playing time decrease on a line with Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald, first-round picks from the past two drafts.

By quality of play, Franklin-Myers should not be the odd man out in that rotation, but moving on could be the easiest way for the Jets to shed some salary. He’d be off the books for 2024 and 2025 with $4 million saved in 2024 cap space with a release. The Jets could also field a trade, opening up $7.3 million in cap space with some future draft capital in return.

New Orleans Saints QB/TE Taysom Hill
New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) runs against Lions safety Tracy Walker III (21) and cornerback Cameron Sutton (1). (Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports)

Marshon Lattimore, CB & Taysom Hill, TE/QB, New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints are always in a strange financial situation. 

The Saints are serial restructurers, opening up cap space by pushing money into the future. That’s a fine way to work the accounting rules, but it can become dicey when players age and there is no way to get out of the contract.

That changes on June 1, when dead money can be split across two seasons. Releases can be designated as post-June 1 transactions at any point in the offseason while the cap ramifications go into effect on June 1. 

That is not the case for trades, which actually must be completed after June 1 to qualify for that cap benefit.

Trades also benefit from transferring the full salary, so just the bonuses are accounted for on the cap. If the Saints wanted to start moving away from the hamster wheel they’ve been running on some post-June 1 trades could be appealing.

The first would be for CB Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore’s name has been in trade rumors, but the only transaction that would open up cap space for the Saints is a post-June 1 trade.

New Orleans would free up about $3 million on the 2024 cap and get out of his contract’s final three years, which comes with salaries of $16 million in 2025 and 2026. Lattimore would count for a $20.6 million dead money hit in 2025, but that would be well below the $31.4 million scheduled cap hit if he remained on the roster.

A new team would be on the hook for about three years and $38 million, with just $12 million guaranteed in 2024. That’s about where Chidobe Awuzie signed with the Tennessee Titans this offseason. Lattimore has played inconsistently, but that’s a reasonably low-risk swing for a team with a need at cornerback.

A Taysom Hill trade could save the Saints $10 million in cap space after June 1 and save New Orleans from $10 million salaries in 2024 and 2025. Hill is probably a trade candidate for only one team — the Denver Broncos — but it’s possible.

Let’s say the Broncos don’t come away from this draft with a quarterback. Would anyone be shocked if Sean Payton sent a late-round pick to the Saints for Hill to get some Wildcat and red zone snaps out of him, if not outright compete with Jarrett Stidham for the starting job?

These are two easy ways for the Saints to shed future salary, preventing them from the inevitable restructure of these contracts next offseason.

Alvin Kamara also fits in this category. The Saints could have saved money by designating him a post-June 1 release this offseason but didn't, hinting he’ll be on the roster and part of the Saints’ plans this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Zay Jones catches a ball while falling to the ground.
Tennessee Titans CB Sean Murphy-Bunting (0) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars WR Zay Jones (7) during the third quarter, Jan. 7, 2024. (The Tennessean/USA TODAY-Sports)

Zay Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants

Zay Jones and Darius Slayton could be on the outside looking in should their teams draft a wide receiver early. The Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants are expected to be interested in first-round receivers.

Jones has been a useful third receiver. Still, with Christian Kirk and Gabe Davis on the roster and a potential rookie coming in, Jones’s $7 million salary would be a lot for a fourth receiver, especially at 29 years old. Jacksonville would save $4 million with a release. 

After 82 receptions and 823 yards in 2022, Jones battled through injuries in 2023 and played in only nine games, totaling 34 receptions for 321 yards and just over a yard per route run.

Slayton has seemingly been in this position every year with the Giants. Yet, the former fifth-round pick continues to find himself in a key role. His playing time has increased in each of the past three seasons. 

He’s had at least 700 receiving yards in four of his five seasons. In 2023, Slayton remained relatively productive on the outside, while the Giants stacked the roster with slot receivers and went through a carousel of quarterbacks.

The Giants are another team that will need to open up cap space to sign its draft class. Moving on from Slayton would open up $3.8 million in cap space for a release or trade before June 1 or $6.4 million after. 

The 27-year-old could have value for a team needing a secondary deep threat on the outside.