NFL

Four Potential NFL Cap Casualties

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It’s almost that time of year for front offices to make precise business decisions. Obviously, there’s still eight teams focused on hoisting the Vince Lombardi trophy in February, but for the other 24 teams, the off-season mindset has already kicked in.

Around this time, veterans all across the league are wondering if they’ll be viewed as a cap casualties, as teams are looking to free up cap space for more younger guys.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the top potential cap casualities.

Marshawn Lynch – While the Seattle Seahawks prep for their big showdown against the Carolina Panthers, in the back of their minds is the future of star running back Marshawn Lynch.

When the 2016 season kicks off, Lynch will be 30 years old, which is usually the beginning of when backs begin to go downhill. In Lynch’s case, it’s already starting with his nagging injury he suffered two months ago.

Lynch underwent abdominal surgery Nov.25 and he hasn’t played since Nov. 15.

With younger backs such as Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael and Bryce Brown, Seattle may see Lynch as expendable, considering his 2016 cap number is over $11 million.

Drew Brees – Earlier in the season, I wrote a column on if the New Orleans Saints should part ways with Drew Brees following the season or not.

During the season, Brees was forced to do something he hasn’t done in 20 years.

“I haven’t missed a game due to injury in 20 years, since my junior year of high school. I consider myself very fortunate for that,” Brees stressed. “[That’s] another reason why this decision was so tough.”

Brees missed one game due to a small tear in his rotator cuff, which is remarkable within itself because typically that type of injury takes longer to heal.

Nonetheless, the future Hall of Famer ended up having another fantastic season.

Brees finished with 4,870 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, while completing 68.3 percent of his passes.

With that being said, New Orleans seems to be stuck in mud because their defense is absolutely atrocious and when you consider the franchise could free up $20 million in cap space by letting Brees go, that instantly becomes a tempting proposition.

On the flip side, if New Orleans were to get rid of Brees, who would be their guy under center?

Garrett Grayson?

Matt Flynn?

Someone in free agency or in the draft?

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis has a very important decision to make to say the least.

Mario Williams – Out of all the potential cap casualites, Mario Williams is probably the most likely one to get the boot.

During his four years in Buffalo, Williams totaled 43 sacks, but this past season, he only earned five sacks.

In what may have been his last game in a Bills uniform, Williams was forced to answer questions about anonymous teammates questioning his effort. 

“If we’re all grown men, I don’t see how everything is anonymous around here,” Williams said. It’s the first time I’ve had something like that. Especially if it’s from the other side of the ball, I mean, that’s even worse.”

Williams’ off-season salary is set for $19 million, which is why it’s a great likelihood the Bills will cut him loose.

Calvin Johnson – Obviously this will be a moot point if Calvin Johnson does in fact retire from the game of football as he’s suggested he might.

However, if Johnson decides to keep playing, it may not be in a Detroit Lions uniform.

The thought of letting ‘Megatron’ go would’ve seemed asinine a few years ago, but things have definitely changed from since then.

If Detroit decides rebuilding is the way to go, it might be impossible to keep a 31-year-old receiver with a $24 million cap hit on the books.

This past season, Johnson totaled 88 catches for 1,214 yards with nine touchdowns and was selected to the Pro Bowl.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.