Home NFL 14 NFL stars who could be cut over the next few weeks: Is Von Miller's time up in Denver? – USA TODAY
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14 NFL stars who could be cut over the next few weeks: Is Von Miller's time up in Denver? – USA TODAY

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Steven Ruiz
 |  For The Win

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NFL mock draft 3.0: What if the New York Jets land Deshaun Watson?

SportsPulse: The New York Jets are the only team in the NFL with four first round picks over the next two seasons. What a draft look like if they trade those to Houston for Deshaun Watson?

SportsPulse, USA TODAY

Corrections and clarifications: The original version of this story included former Raiders WR Tyrell Williams. He has been cut. And the original story included Patrick Paterson among available free agents. Peterson is currently on the Arizona Cardinals roster but is scheduled to reach free agency March 17.

Names like J.J. Watt, Kawann Short and DeSean Jackson have already been added to a deep free-agency class. We still have nearly a month to go before the NFL’s new league year begins (March 17), so there is still plenty of time for more big-name players to join them as teams attempt to get their salary cap situations in order.

Which veteran stars could be added to the open market over the next few weeks? We’ve picked 15 possible salary cap casualties to track between now and the start of free agency. The order is based on how much money teams would save by making the cut.

Salary info via Over the Cap

1. Von Miller, LB Broncos

CAP SAVINGS: $18 million

In a vacuum, this is a no-brainer. But it’s never easy to part ways with a franchise legend. When we last saw Miller, he was still a very good player. It’s just that it’s been over a year since we’ve seen him on a field and he’s on the wrong side of 30.

2. Kwon Alexander, LB Saints

CAP SAVINGS: $13.2 million

Just two years ago, Alexander landed a monster deal in free agency. He could be headed back to the open market after failing to make a mark in New Orleans after the midseason trade from the 49ers. The Saints’ cap issues are well-known; they simply can’t afford to pass up on those savings.

3. Eric Fisher, OT Chiefs

CAP SAVINGS: $11.9 million

That harrowing performance by the offensive line in the Super Bowl might convince the Chiefs to keep the solid blindside protector around, but the defending AFC champs need cap space. Fisher won’t be easy to replace, but his cap number might outweigh his value to the team at this point.

4. Malcolm Butler, CB Titans

CAP SAVINGS: $10.2 million

The Titans need all the secondary help they can get, and Butler may have been their best cornerback last season. But look at all the money they can save by parting ways with a replacement-level starter.

5. Casey Hayward, CB Chargers

CAP SAVINGS: $9.8 million

Once considered a top boundary corner in the league, Hayward’s play hasn’t been nearly as consistent in recent seasons. He remains a good starter, but the Chargers aren’t exactly hurting in the secondary and would likely prefer to keep the group on the younger side.

FRANCHISE TAGS: Recommendations for all 32 NFL teams

FREE AGENCY: Top 101 players who could be available on March 17

MOCK DRAFT: What could unfold if Jets acquire Deshaun Watson from Texans?

6. Geno Atkins, DT Bengals

CAP SAVINGS: $9.5 million

It could be a tough offseason for the more sentimental Bengals fans. A.J. Green is certainly gone, and it looks like another franchise legend will join him on the open market. Atkins could still be a contributor in the right role, but he’s no longer the type of player who commands a massive salary.

7. David DeCastro, OG Steelers

CAP SAVINGS: $8.8 million

Considering DeCastro’s reputation, that number doesn’t sound very high, but the All-Pro guard’s play has been on a consistent decline over the last few years. The Steelers are staring at a rebuild, and blowing up an aging offensive line wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

8. John Brown, WR Bills

CAP SAVINGS: $7.9 million

I don’t know if this is actually the best move for the Bills. It’s a decent amount of money they could save, but Brown could be a key piece to that offense. The passing game is not nearly as intimidating without him taking the top off the coverage. Is that worth more than the $7.9 million they could save?

9. Brandon Williams, DT Ravens

CAP SAVINGS: $7.5 million

Williams remains a useful player — especially against the run — but it’s hard to justify his cost. He’s not an impact player on passing downs, and that $7.5 million could go a long way for a team in need of reinforcements all over the offense.

10. David Johnson, RB Texans

CAP SAVINGS: $6.4 million

This would be a predictable conclusion to one of the worst trades in NFL history. Johnson showed a bit more juice in Houston than he had during his final year in Arizona, but the savings are just too big to pass up for a team in transition.

11. Nate Solder, OT Giants

CAP SAVINGS: $6 million

The Giants were widely criticized for giving Solder this contract. Two years later, it looks like they’ll move on. The veteran tackle opted out of last season and was hardly missed. Especially after rookie Andrew Thomas found his footing at left tackle.

12. David Njoku, TE Browns

CAP SAVINGS: $6 million

The Browns already have a lot invested in the tight end position, so it hardly makes sense to keep Njoku around to play a bit part in the offense. He caught just 16 passes in 2020.

13. Kyle Rudolph, TE Vikings

CAP SAVINGS: $5 million

Rudolph was not pleased with his role during the 2020 season and has already made it public that he’s refusing to re-work his contract. If Minnesota can’t work out a trade, Rudolph will join a robust tight end market this offseason.

14. Zach Ertz, TE Eagles

CAP SAVINGS: $4.7 million

Ertz and the Eagles have been headed for a divorce for a few months now, and it could happen sooner rather than later if Philly can’t find a trade partner. The Eagles need cap space in the worst way.

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