Nick Mensio

Offseason Low Down

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Cut Candidates: AFC West

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


With the Super Bowl behind us, we’re shifting into offseason mode here at Rotoworld. In a salary-cap league with non-guaranteed contracts like the NFL, the offseason is a time teams rid themselves of players not living up to their pay scale. Every year, handfuls among handfuls of players are asked to take pay cuts or simply released outright. Before free agency opens March 10, I’ll highlight names from each team who may be on the roster bubble. According to several reports, the salary cap is expected to rise to roughly $142 million in 2015. Terms to know are "cap number", "cap savings", "cash savings", and "dead money". Cap number is how much Player X will count against Team X's salary cap. Cap savings is how much Team X will clear in salary-cap space by cutting Player X. Cash savings is how much Team X will save in terms of sheer cash, and it can be formulated by Player X's base salary + bonuses. Dead money is how much Player X will count against Team X's salary cap, even if he is released. I already took a look at the AFC East here, the AFC North here, and the AFC South here.

Mensio’s Note: For detailed salary cap and contract information, go check out OverTheCap.com. Salary figures and cap numbers are from them. I’d also like to give a shout-out to self-proclaimed salary cap enthusiast Andrew Cohen for answering several questions for me. Follow him on Twitter here.

DENVER BRONCOS

OT Chris Clark
Cap number: $1.626M
Cap savings: $1.4M
Cash savings: $1.4M
Dead money: $226K
The Broncos are in okay shape with the salary cap, but they also need to re-sign Demaryius Thomas and look into new deals with fellow free agents Julius Thomas and Terrance Knighton. Demaryius is priority No. 1, 2, and 3. Orange Julius has a troubling injury history and may prove to be more a product of Peyton Manning. Denver may opt to try and re-sign TE Virgil Green instead and bring back Knighton, letting Julius walk. Let’s now get to Clark. The Broncos signed Clark to a two-year extension back in September 2013, so he’s entering the final year of his deal. He filled in well for LT Ryan Clady during the 2013 season, and entered 2014 as the starting right tackle. Clark ended up getting benched when the Broncos reshuffled their offensive line midway through the year. He’s a swing tackle-type. What may save Clark is that fellow OL mates Orlando Franklin and Will Montgomery are free agents.

WR Andre Caldwell
Cap number: $1.55M
Cap savings: $1.35M
Cash savings: $1.35M
Dead money: $200K
Caldwell is a decent depth player and a nice player to have around, but he just doesn’t contribute much. He played just 186 offensive snaps this past season, catching 5-of-16 targets for 47 scoreless yards. Caldwell also doesn’t bring much to the table on special teams. Second-year WR Cody Latimer should be ready to push for playing time in three-wide sets with Wes Welker a free agent and Caldwell a cut candidate.

Editor's Note: For everything NFL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_FB and @NickMensio on Twitter.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

WR Dwayne Bowe
Cap number: $14M
Cap savings: $5M
Cash savings: $11M
Dead money: $9M
The Chiefs have one of the worst cap situations in the league, as they’re currently over the 2015 projected salary cap. Bowe has three years left on a five-year, $56M deal. He’ll turn 31 next September and caught zero touchdowns this past season, posting a pedestrian 60-755-0 receiving line. The Chiefs need to clear money to lock up OLB Justin Houston. Cutting Bowe would result in a sizable dead-money hit and leave the Chiefs even thinner at a position where they already need a ton of help, but Bowe isn’t worth the money he is making. Releasing Bowe as a post-June 1 cut would result in $11M of 2015 cap space instead of $5M, but that money wouldn’t be available until after June 1. The Chiefs will likely ask Bowe to take a pay cut. If he declines, there’s a good chance he gets his walking papers. Bowe may be fine with that in order to get away from Alex Smith.

OLB Tamba Hali
Cap number: $11.965M
Cap savings: $9M
Cash savings: $9M
Dead money: $2.965M
Hali had managed at least 8.5 sacks in five-straight seasons before 2014 when he saw his total dip from 11 in 2013 to six. Teammate Justin Houston likely had a lot to do with it, as he was getting to the quarterback faster than nine-year veteran Hali. Hali will be 32 next season and has one year left on a five-year, $57.5M deal. The Chiefs need to re-sign Houston and used their first-round pick on OLB Dee Ford last year. Hali has already said he’s open to a pay cut; he wants to stay in Kansas City “to win a championship.” One of Hali or Dwayne Bowe is going to have to leave, possibly even both.

DE Mike DeVito
Cap number: $5.4M
Cap savings: $4M
Cash savings: $4M
Dead money: $1.4M
Devito was a top-four run-stuffing 3-4 defensive end at Pro Football Focus in 2013, but he tore his Achilles’ in Week 1 this past season and will be 31 in June. Now on the wrong side of 30, coming off a serious injury, and entering the final year of his contract, Devito is a prime cut candidate. The Chiefs handed DE Allen Bailey a $25M contract extension in November and have veterans Vance Walker and Jaye Howard willing and able to handle Devito’s position at a much cheaper price.

QB Chase Daniel
Cap number: $4.8M
Cap savings: $3.8M
Cash savings: $3.8M
Dead money: $1M
Daniel has received the Week 17 start in back-to-back seasons with the Chiefs, game-managing his way to a 1-1 record. In those two starts, Daniel completed 37-of-57 passes for 357 yards, one touchdown, and zero interceptions. That’s Alex Smithian work from Daniel with a 6.2 YPA average. The Chiefs used a fifth-round pick on Aaron Murray in last year’s draft and also have Terrelle Pryor in the fold. As mentioned above, the Chiefs need to clear money. Cutting an expensive backup quarterback behind a starter who has stayed relatively healthy in recent years is one of the easiest ways to save some cash. Daniel is a poor man’s Smith as a small, popgun-armed passer with above-average athleticism.


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Nick Mensio is a football writer for Rotoworld.com. The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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