Every year, teams in the National Football League are forced to part ways with talented players in order to reduce their roster sizes to 53 players and fit under the league salary cap. Because of the NFL salary cap — which is very real, by the way — it is not always the players that fans and experts expect who end up getting cut.
To name a few examples from last offseason, the New England Patriots cut former MVP QB Cam Newton to pave the way for rookie Mac Jones to start. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions cut Breshad Perriman, who was the most experienced WR in a very young receiver group. Once again, teams will be forced to make tough decisions before the 2022 season commences in order to get down to 53 players at the end of the day.
Here is one surprising cut each team may make this offseason:
Arizona Cardinals: Devon Kennard
The edge rusher position was clearly one that Arizona wanted to upgrade this offseason. They took three edge rushers in the draft between Cameron Thomas, Myjai Sanders, and Jesse Luketa. As a result of the influx of pass rushers to rush opposite Markus Golden, Kennard’s time in Arizona could come to an end. Though cutting him does not offer major cap relief to Arizona, giving extra reps to younger players may be the most important factor here.
Atlanta Falcons: Deion Jones
After signing a huge contract extension with Atlanta in 2019, Jones has not been quite the same player, especially as of late. Jones will also be competing with Mykal Walker and Rashaan Edwards for playing time. This season he boasts a cap number of over $20M and offers some savings if cut. However, the real advantage to cutting him will come the following year, when the Falcons would save over $13M.
Baltimore Ravens: Chuck Clark
Chuck Clark has been an integral part of the Ravens defense the past few seasons, but even more so this past year when the team was ravaged with a multitude of injuries. It does not seem like a good sign for Clark’s future with the team, however, that the Ravens decided to select Notre Dame star safety Kyle Hamilton with their first of two first-round picks in this year’s draft. The need to give Hamilton more playing time due to his higher ceiling could ultimately push Clark out. By cutting Clark, the Ravens can save $2.75M while incurring a dead cap hit of around $1.88M.
Buffalo Bills: Devin Singletary
The running back position has been a very hit or miss position for the Buffalo Bills the past few seasons. While the running game as a whole has improved, it does seem like one of their backs could potentially hit the open market, especially with the Bills using a high draft pick on University of Georgia back James Cook. With Cook having a very similar skillset to Devin Singletary, the former FAU product could be on his way out. By cutting Singletary, the Bills can save $2.54M while only incurring a dead cap hit of $258,956. Even though Singletary was an underrated part of the offense last season, it seems likely he could lose playing time to the aforementioned Cook.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Erving
Carolina had their fair share of OL issues during the 2021 season but look to be much improved headed into 2022. Erving started half of last season and was not great and would likely operate in a swing tackle role in 2022. The addition of Ikem Ekwonu in the draft and the opportunity to save a little bit of money in 2022, make Erving a cut candidate.
Chicago Bears: Dazz Newsome
Chicago and their new regime made many moves this offseason, as they are resetting the roster to build for the future. Due to their very thin roster in terms of depth and light cap hits at most spots, there were few players that stuck out as cut candidates. However, Dazz Newsome stuck out a player that may not be with the team. While Newsome was a 6th round pick and did not play much as a rookie, he is still a young player and a versatile receiving option. He may be cut because the Bears will likely not keep double digit receivers on their roster, and just drafted Velus Jones Jr. in the third round, as someone who can play WR and take over return opportunities.
Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Hilton
Although Mike Hilton played a huge role in the Bengals’ defensive resurgence in 2021, particularly in their playoff run, the drafting of Michigan S Dax Hill may have brought an end to Hilton’s tenure in Cincinnati. The Bengals can save $4M while only incurring a dead cap penalty of $1M. With Hill being able to slide into Hilton’s role right away, this move could make a lot of sense despite the surprise it would bring from parting ways with such a steady veteran presence.
Cleveland Browns: Kareem Hunt
With only one-year remaining on his contract, the Browns could part ways with Kareem Hunt early. He struggled to stay healthy in 2021, which allowed players like D’Ernest Johnson and Demetric Felton to get more playing time. Moreover, the Browns also spent a draft pick on Cincinnati RB Jerome Ford who may be able to pick up some of the slack in the passing game if Hunt is not a part of this team moving forward. By cutting Hunt, the Browns would save $6.25M and not incur a dead cap penalty.
Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Brown
The CB who started opposite Trevon Diggs last season, Brown made some big plays, but he was also targeted the second most and allowed the fourth most receptions of any player in the league. While cutting a player in a relatively thin group may not make sense, the move would save the team $5M. In addition, Dallas will have Kelvin Joseph and Jourdan Lewis back in the CB room.
Denver Broncos: Mike Purcell
This is an interesting situation because the Broncos don’t have too many players, they can cut without taking on a significant dead cap penalty. The most likely option in this case would be veteran DT Mike Purcell. While Purcell has not been the most productive defensive tackle, he was still a ten-game starter for Denver and helped the Broncos to only give up 4.3 yards per attempt last season. The Broncos can save around $3.57M while only incurring a dead cap penalty of $774,166 if they decide to cut Purcell. Also, Denver brought in former San Francisco 49er D.J. Jones, who is younger and more productive than Purcell, making him the projected starter over Purcell.
Detroit Lions: Michael Brockers
After making the trade for Michael Brockers last offseason, it seemed like Brockers could be a long-term part of their future. However, Detroit has made a commitment to investing in the trenches along the DL. On the interior, between Levi Onwuzurike, Alim McNeil, Josh Paschal, and the other players they have on the edge, moving on from a veteran on the DL would make sense. In addition, by cutting Brockers, Detroit could save around $1M this season and $10M next season.
Green Bay Packers: Randall Cobb
This move was mainly made thanks to the request of Aaron Rodgers, but it never made too much sense in the first place, as Cobb had just 25 catches last season. This would not be a cap saving move and the WR group is already thinner than last season but moving on from Cobb would give younger options like Amari Rogers and Romeo Doubs a chance to play early.
Houston Texans: Kamu Grugier-Hill
Currently, the Texans are struggling to find an identity for their team. Last offseason, the Texans signed a large number of veterans to short-term deals, and while the team remained more competitive than people thought they would be, the team still finished with the third-worst record in the league. Heading into Year 2 with Nick Caserio as the GM, the Texans should prioritize getting younger, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. This could start with parting ways with Kamu Grugier-Hill in order to pave the way for rookie linebacker Christian Harris. Cutting Grugier-Hill would save the Texans around $2.41M while only incurring a dead cap penalty of $1.5M.
Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly
This would truly be a surprising move by the Colts considering that their offensive line is highly regarded as one of the best in the NFL. Furthermore, cutting Kelly would save the Colts only $3.5M while incurring a dead cap hit of $6.25M. However, Kelly has only been able to play a full season twice in his six-year career, and backup Danny Pinter has shown flashes of being able to pick up the slack in Kelly’s absence. While it may not make a lot of sense from a financial standpoint, the Colts could value Pinter’s ability to stay healthy in comparison with Kelly.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Marvin Jones
Even though cutting Marvin Jones would not make the most sense from a financial perspective, it is certainly a move the Jaguars could consider. Jacksonville would only save $3.5M while incurring a dead cap hit of around $5.21M, but this could be a move that helps to elevate some other receivers who figure to play a bigger role in the future of this franchise—Marvin Jones is currently 32 years old. The Jaguars just signed Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in the offseason and also will get former first-round pick Travis Etienne back, who could see several snaps as a receiver. Moreover, the Jaguars still have Laviska Shenault who could see more targets as a result of the Jaguars parting ways with Jones.
Kansas City Chiefs: Mecole Hardman
Although it would be a very surprising move for the Chiefs to move on from Mecole Hardman in the same offseason, they also sent Tyreek Hill away to the Dolphins, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. A lot of it would be contingent on how ready rookie Skyy Moore would be to contribute to this team. If Moore is more (no pun intended) than ready to contribute right away, this could make Hardman more expendable to a certain degree. Cutting Hardman would save the Chiefs around $4M while only incurring a dead cap hit of $413,191. It’s not the most ideal move, but it is possible, especially if the Chiefs move away from a passing game that would make Hardman an effective receiver.
Las Vegas Raiders: Denzelle Good
While Denzelle Good may not be a household name, he proved to be a solid guard for the Raiders in 2019 and 2020. If it wasn’t for a torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2021 season, Good could have been on his way to another solid campaign; however, with the Raiders spending a third-round pick on Memphis guard Dylan Parham, Good’s days as a Raider could be numbered, especially under a new regime. Cutting Good would save the Raiders $3.71M while not incurring a dead cap hit.
Los Angeles Chargers: Michael Davis
Michael Davis earned a three-year, $25.2M contract extension after a solid 2020 campaign, but he struggled immensely as the Chargers no. 1 corner in 2021. Due to his struggles among other factors, the Chargers decided to bring in All-Pro CB J.C. Jackson to be their true top corner; however, this move along with signing Bryce Callahan may have made Davis expendable. Even though the Chargers would only save $2.375 M and incur a dead cap hit of $7M, it could be a move worth doing for the future for the Chargers.
Los Angeles Rams: Matt Gay
This one may be a big surprise, as Gay has kicked very well over the past few years and was a Pro Bowler in 2021, but the Rams have very few veterans that could be cut. Tyler Higbee is one that could make sense, but they have very little depth behind him. For Gay, he missed two key kicks in the playoffs last season, and cutting him would save $2.5M, not to mention, they signed Texas’ Cameron Dicker as a UDFA.
Miami Dolphins: Michael Deiter
It is highly likely that Michael Deiter will be in the running for the starting center job on the Dolphins this upcoming season, but Deiter has had his fair share of struggles in Miami. If Conor Williams ends up being the starting center and Liam Eichenberg is moved to guard, Deiter could be the odd man out. If the Dolphins decided to cut Deiter, they would save $2.54 M while only incurring a dead cap hit of $246,312.
Minnesota Vikings: Greg Joseph
It’s not every day where parting ways with a kicker is seen as a surprise move, but this could certainly be the case for the Minnesota Vikings. They are in a similar situation to the Broncos where they just don’t have many players who would save them a lot of money by cutting. Joseph had a strong year in 2021, knocking down 86.8% of his field goal attempts and 90% of his extra points. The only issue was that Joseph did miss a number of important kicks that along with other factors led to the Vikings narrowly missing the playoffs for the second year in a row. Cutting Joseph would lead to the Vikings saving $2.433M while not incurring a dead cap hit, but they would have to act swiftly to add another kicker after undrafted rookie Gabe Brkic was claimed off of waivers by divisional foe the Green Bay Packers recently.
New England Patriots: Jonathan Jones
It seems highly unlikely that the Patriots would deplete their cornerback group even further after it saw star CBs Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson depart in the past year, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for the Patriots to part ways with slot corner Jonathan Jones. The former Auburn Tiger has had his fair share of great moments in a Patriots uniform, but he was only able to play in six games last season and has not been the most consistent corner. With the Patriots bringing in Marcus Jones and Jack Jones through this year’s draft, Jonathan Jones could see a decrease in playing time as a result if these rookies have a higher ceiling than he does at the moment. If the Patriots decide to part with Jo. Jones, they would only incur a dead cap hit of around $2.02M and save around $5.68M.
New Orleans Saints: Bradley Roby
New Orleans is deep on the defensive side of the ball and could see a few different players not on the roster when the season begins. Roby was brought in from Houston last season but started just one game in 2021. While he provides good depth, New Orleans has many young pieces at CB and after drafting Alontae Taylor, the Saints could move on from Roby even though he is not very expensive.
New York Giants: Sterling Shepard
This offseason has already seen the Giants have made a talented veteran a cap casualty in James Bradberry. Going into the season, New York could make another, as cutting ties with Sterling Shepard could free up some space for younger options. Shepard is one of, if not, the longest tenured Giants players, but inconsistencies to produce and stay on the field may have cost Shepard a roster spot. Cutting Shepard may not save much money, but it would allow more playing time for younger receivers in Toney, Slayton, and Robinson.
New York Jets: Denzel Mims
This would not be a cap-centered move but moving on from Denzel Mims who has struggled to get rhythm going in his NFL career would free up a valuable roster spot. Mims has shown bright spots in the past but has been able to stay on the field. While Mims’ athletic profile is worth giving another chance, he may not have a roster spot secured since he is not a key player on special teams unlike some of the other roster bubble players.
Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett
Philadelphia has a roster that is much improved and now in a Super Bowl window, ready to contend. As a result, it is hard to see some more productive and expensive players being cut like Javon Hargrave or Fletcher Cox. Although it would be surprising to see him go, Derek Barnett could be traded or cut to give room for the other talented rushers on the roster. This would not be a cap move, but Barnett is coming off a season where he started almost every game and had just two sacks, not to mention, between Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, and Josh Sweat, there are few spots to go around.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Sutton
Although Cameron Sutton started in 16/17 regular season games, he could be on the chopping block if the Steelers deem any of their backups worth starting over him. Sutton has been a solid player but has had his fair share of struggles during his time as a Steeler. If Pittsburgh decided to move on from the veteran, the franchise would save $4.5M and only incur a dead cap hit of $700,000. While it is a highly unlikely move, it could still be one worth doing if the Steelers want to have more cap flexibility moving forward.
San Francisco 49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo being on a different team than the 49ers has not been a very foreign thought after they traded up to the third selection of the 2021 draft but seeing him cut would be a surprise. They have not been able to find a trade partner yet and if they still cannot find one, cutting him would save over $25M and allow Trey Lance to take over the starting job without competition.
Seattle Seahawks: Chris Carson
Chris Carson’s story is a bit of a tragic one, as he was a very talented and productive player that has been plagued by injuries. His most recent injury was a very serious one that saw him play just 4 games in 2021. Cutting Carson would save over $3M in 2022 and would make some sense given the emergence of Rashaad Penny and give opportunity to their second-round pick, Kenneth Walker.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Pinion
While cutting kickers and punters may not be the most interesting news in the world, they are still important pieces of the roster, especially for teams contending for the Super Bowl. Pinion has been the Bucs’ punter for the past 3 seasons and done a good job but cutting him would save almost $3M and give way to their 4th round pick, Jake Camarda.
Tennessee Titans: Denico Autry
Denico Autry has been a very productive player throughout his career. He is starting to get on the older side, though, as he will be 32 years old at the start of this season. If the Titans want to prioritize getting younger on the defensive side of the ball, they can part ways with the productive Autry and save $4.75M while incurring a dead cap penalty of $3.9M. It would be an extremely surprising move to see the Titans part ways with Autry, especially as he helped the Titans to finish tenth in the league in sacks in 2021 with 43, accounting for 9.0 of them. However, it’s not completely out of the question.
Washington Commanders: Wes Schweitzer
Washington has seen many changes along their IOL this offseason, as they lost Brandon Scherff and parted ways with Ereck Flowers. After that, they signed Andrew Norwell and Trai Turner, as both veterans should transition smoothly into their new offense. Those moves leave Wes Schweitzer as the odd man out, as the former 6th round pick has done a good job playing multiple positions each year in his career. While he would be useful depth on the team, cutting Schweitzer could make sense since he likely will not start, and the move will save them almost $5M in 2022.