Money is a huge deal in the NFL, in case you didn't notice. It’s what keeps the league going, but what also keeps these players playing. A lot of times, NFL teams pay out big contracts to players who can’t always live up to the expectations these teams have for them. Players sometimes have big years, then eventually can’t keep putting up the numbers they once did. Sometimes teams are smart and decide to release them without having to pay the rest of their contract, despite the guaranteed amount. Sometimes though, other teams hope for the best, and won't admit to a mistake, keeping the player far longer than they should.
And there are times where players just aren’t worth a roster spot. Why pay someone a certain amount of money if they aren’t worth the team's time? A 53 man roster may seem like a lot, but each player plays a huge role on Sundays whether they play in the game or not. A lot of players that ride the roster of a team don’t necessarily help their team out, in fact certain players even hurt their team rather than help them. With the season going by and keeping an eye out for how each player is performing, it’s important to keep an eye out for which players each team will want to release this offseason.
32 Arizona Cardinals - Carson Palmer
Yeah, it may sound ridiculous, but it may be time. If Carson Palmer doesn’t decide to opt out of his contract with the Cardinals after 2017, they will owe him around $14 million. Now back when he was younger, that would seem reasonable for his play. But this season, Palmer has been pretty mediocre. The Cardinals have stayed in the hunt for the playoffs, but with the way they are playing, it doesn’t seem likely they'll get there.
If the Cardinals miss the playoffs this season, it would be the second straight year they miss it, after having gone to the NFC Championship just a couple of years ago. Turning 38 years old, it doesn’t look like Palmer will be coming back stronger. With his recent injury, it’s time for the Cardinals to let go and move on.
31 Atlanta Falcons - Matt Schaub
It’s a little ridiculous for a team to pay $5.5 million for a backup quarterback to be on the roster. Matt Schaub used to be the starting quarterback of the Houston Texans, but he’s still a backup, and that money can be used elsewhere. A much cheaper backup quarterback can be signed, or even drafted in the later rounds. It’s not like Matt Ryan will be losing his job anytime soon for the Falcons to need to pay top dollar for a backup quarterback.
The easy fix for this whole situation, get rid of Matt Schaub and find someone else. We haven’t seen Ryan have any serious health issues, so the Falcons most likely won’t need to turn to whoever the backup quarterback may be.
30 Baltimore Ravens - Danny Woodhead
The Ravens were desperate to find some sort of spark in their running game and to give Joe Flacco a reliable receiving back out of the backfield so they went out and signed Danny Woodhead to a three-year contract in the offseason. While Woodhead isn't getting paid a ridiculous amount of money (only carrying a cap hit of $3.3 million in 2018 and $3.75 million in 2019), he has had trouble staying healthy. He spent most of two of his last three seasons on IR and he got injured again this year in Week 1. He hasn't brought much of a spark to the Ravens backfield and the team would be better off trying to find a back in the early rounds of the draft.
29 Buffalo Bills - Tyrod Taylor
For some time this season, it looked like the Buffalo Bills could actually make the playoffs. This team just absolutely fell apart, and it looks like that’s the way things are going to continue for the team. For a player who could make around $15 million next season, Tyrod Taylor isn’t exactly getting a ringing endorsement from the Bills. Taylor isn’t a bad quarterback, but he also he isn’t a quarterback that is going to take you to the next level. The team's experiment with Nathan Peterman failed miserably, but how do you go back and anoint Taylor the QB of the future?
Taylor plays conservatively which isn’t bad, but sometimes too conservative won’t help the team perform. This Bills might want to look into possibly spending money into signing a more proven veteran, or using the draft to grab a new talent.
28 Carolina Panthers - Jonathan Stewart
After drafting Christian McCaffrey, it may be time to turn the page on Jonathan Stewart. And if not, maybe drafting another running back to truly be the between the tackles back this team needs may be the best option. Stewart hasn’t been all that great, and if this team had a good running game outside of Cam Newton, they'd truly be on the same level they were two years ago.
Stewart has had his years, but it seems that his prime is past. So far, this season, Stewart has had one game where he rushed over 100 yards in a game. This Panthers team needs an explosive back that can run between the tackles, and can rush for over 1,000 yards in a season.
27 Chicago Bears - Mike Glennon
It’s time for the Bears to admit they were wrong for signing Mike Glennon to a big contract this offseason. Glennon signed a three-year deal worth $45 million. After they signed him to that big contract, they traded up a spot in the 2017 NFL Draft to pick up Mitchell Trubisky. After Glennon started the season struggling, throwing four touchdowns to five interceptions, he was benched and Trubisky took over the starting position. It seems that Trubisky will be the starter from here on out, unless something dramatic changes.
Glennon had some flashes where he looked like he could be the starting quarterback of this football team, but then there were many times where he looked absolutely terrible. Unless the Bears want to keep Glennon as the highest paid backup quarterback in the league, they’re going to want to get rid of him.
26 Cincinnati Bengals - Giovani Bernard
The Cincinnati Bengals have desperately been trying to start up a run game to help out Andy Dalton. It just doesn’t seem too promising for this team. While Joe Mixon and Jeremy Hill have struggled, it almost seems that Giovani Bernard is a lost cause at this point. His role on the team is very unclear.
It may be time for the Bengals to just stop teasing Bernard, and release him. If they really needed another running back on this roster, the Bengals could draft a back in the later rounds or just sign a veteran who will know what his role is. Bernard could probably thrive in a new situation, but it doesn't look like it'll happen in Cincy.
25 Cleveland Browns - Joe Thomas
So, it doesn’t seem like the Cleveland Browns can fix their issues overnight. This Browns team has quite a few holes that need to be fixed. With that being said, this team may need to start to spend money in free agency, on top of just using the draft to re-build this franchise.
This may be hard to fathom for Browns fans, but a good start may be to release Joe Thomas. After tearing his triceps and having to miss the rest of next season, who knows what Thomas could look like next season. As important as the offensive tackle position is in football, the Browns have so many holes and we don't know how many good years Thomas has left. The decent thing to do would be to let Thomas try to find himself a team that's ready to contend for a Super Bowl.
24 Dallas Cowboys - Randy Gregory
Before anything, we should be talking to Jerry Jones about why he let Randy Gregory wear number 94. Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware both wore that number, so in order for Gregory to have been able to wear that number, he should have truly deserved it. Well, of course he didn’t. Randy Gregory is like a less popular version of Johnny Manziel. He can’t get his stuff together, as he constantly fails drug tests and struggles to abide by the laws and NFL policies.
He’s currently suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Throughout his career, he has only totalled one sack. Gregory hasn’t even proven that he deserves to be on the field when he’s active. Jerry Jones needs to get over giving Gregory a second chance, and dump him.
23 Denver Broncos - Trevor Siemian
The Dallas Cowboys made Trevor Siemian look like Peyton Manning, and from there on everything seemed all fine and dandy. But then Siemian showed his true colors, which eventually led to him losing his job to Brock Osweiler. John Elway said he was comfortable with the quarterback position in Denver before the season started, but after the collapse of this team, it’s clear that the quarterback position is the Achilles heel in Denver, and is keeping this Broncos team from making it back to the playoffs.
It makes sense to keep Paxton Lynch as they just spent a first round pick on him in 2016, but the Broncos really need to invest in a proven veteran. To start, they need to release Siemian.
22 Detrioit Lions - Theo Riddick
It’s not really worth paying Theo Riddick another $3 million to catch the ball out of the backfield. Yes, he’s played fairly well as a running back catching the ball, but a lot of young backs can do that as well as run the ball. Riddick has almost become one dimensional, only able to catch the ball out of the backfield. Occasionally he’ll rush for a couple attempts in a game, but that’s it.
With Ameer Abdullah having established himself as the lead back in Detroit, the Lions should look to the draft and find someone who can really complement Abdullah, or possibly upgrade from him altogether. The Lions are a couple of pieces away from being true contenders and getting their backfield resolved would be a huge step.
21 Green Bay Packers - Clay Matthews
This may be a tough one for Packers fans to take in, but it’s time to move on from Clay Matthews. Now before saying he definitely needs to be released, the best way for the Packers front office to go about this situation would be to try and restructure his contract. Matthews is due to make around $11 million next season, playing as an average linebacker.
The Packers could go out and draft another linebacker who could be an upgrade on Matthews, at a much cheaper cost. Matthews has aged, and seems to be missing a step that made him so dominant a few years ago. Slowly, his production is declining as the years go on, and he is becoming less and less of a factor for teams to look out for week after week. The Packers have many other holes to fix, and they may want to use that money on fixing those holes rather than paying Matthews.
20 Houston Texans - Lamar Miller
The Houston Texans are in a sticky situation. They’re currently paying Lamar Miller around $6 million a year, while their back up running back, D’Onta Foreman, is averaging the same number of yards, making less than $800,000 a season. The Texans need to look out for their future, and there’s still quite some time left on Miller’s contract. They should release Miller, and give Foreman the chance to shine as the lead back. He’s shown that he can handle the workload, and he could probably overtake the starting position from Miller.
With Deshaun Watson now the undisputed starter of the team when he comes back next season, the Texans should be focusing on investing in the o-line for Watson, and they could get some cap space by parting ways with Miller.
19 Indianapolis Colts - Robert Turbin
Robert Turbin has bounced around quite a bit in his career, and the Colts need to let him bounce his way back into free agency. The Colts currently have a good situation going at the running back position with Frank Gore and Marlon Mack. Who knows if Gore keeps playing next season, or if the Colts even consider bringing him back. But if Gore doesn’t come back, it’s doubtful if Turbin is worth keeping.
Before his season ended due to a dislocated elbow in Week 6, Turbin had 23 carries for only 53 yards. He was used mostly as a third down back. The Colts' best bet with Turbin, is to cut him and draft a running back in the late rounds. Turbin has been really a non factor, and isn’t worth really keeping on this roster.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars - Chris Ivory (RB)
This is one way of dealing with Chris Ivory if you’re the Jacksonville Jaguars, or you could put him on the trade block. Ivory has played well rushing behind Leonard Fournette. But paying your backup running back $6 million a season, is absolutely absurd. That means Ivory is getting paid a very similar paycheck to Fournette, which means the Jaguars are paying about $12 million between the two running backs.
Obviously, the Jags aren’t going to cut Fournette. So, it would make sense to get rid of Ivory. This is Fournette’s backfield, and he can handle the pressure of being a three down back. The Jags could easily go draft a young running back in the seventh round of the draft, but paying $6 million each per running back is a ridiculous amount of money.
17 Kansas City Chiefs - Chris Conley
The Kansas City Chiefs don’t have too many holes on this team, but one player that can be cut is Chris Conley. Conley has never really been all that much of a help for the Chiefs, despite a decent run in 2016. Chances are the Chiefs won’t release him due to his one good season. But he soon will have completed two seasons in his career where he caught for less than 200 yards. Conley also just dealt with an Achilles injury, which is holding him out for the rest of the season.
The Chiefs could move on from Conley and draft a late round wide receiver, to try and complement Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Either way, it doesn’t seem like Conley will be that guy.
16 Los Angeles Chargers - Jason Verrett (CB)
It was kind of risky for the Los Angeles Chargers to exercise that fifth-year option on cornerback Jason Verrett. He had a great season in 2015, in which he finished with three interceptions. He then only had one interception last season, after suffering a knee injury, which lingered into this season, causing him to miss the rest of the season.
Next year, Verrett is scheduled to make around $8 million. The Chargers are trying to stay optimistic with the former first rounder, but with his injury history, it’s not worth having to even deal with the uncertainty and paying someone who cannot stay healthy. Verrett may be a great talent, but he’s definitely not a healthy one. It'll be a tough decision as it's always tough to cut a player whose only weakness is his durability.
15 Los Angeles Rams - Tavon Austin
Tavon Austin looked like he could be one of the most electrifying wide receivers in the league. Even though the Rams have the best offense in the league, Austin is almost a non-factor. He has definitely been more of a factor rushing the ball, but he still doesn’t look to be worth the $8 million he’s getting paid.
With so many skill position players going on the free agent market this season, the Rams could easily find a replacement for Austin. Sean McVay has arguably earned a nod for Coach of the Year consideration and next season will be all about putting his stamp on the team. He'll likely want to find a more complete receiver than Austin.
14 Miami Dolphins - Andre Branch
It seems that the Miami Dolphins have a history of paying players too quickly, before actually seeing what they’re all about. Defensive end, Andre Branch, is currently making around $10 million a year to play as a decent defensive end. His best season came back in 2013, when he totaled six sacks. If this guy was making half of what he’s making right now, it’s understandable. But between Ndamukong Suh, Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, just in 2018 alone, this Dolphins team is spending around $45 million just on those three players.
Wake and Suh have played well, but Branch definitely has not lived up to his expectations. Shed $10 million right there, or re-negotiate his contract because that is way too much money to be spending when there’s other positions that also need to be filled on that team.
13 Minnesota Vikings - Laquon Treadwell
The Vikings had high hopes for Laqoun Treadwell, and he has not even come close to living up to the expectations they had for him. The Vikings used their first-round pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, to add Treadwell to the team, in hopes to give some weapons on offense for Teddy Bridgewater, who was the starter at the time.
Throughout his two-year career, he suffered a major injury to miss almost all of his rookie season, and has a total for 13 receptions for 157 yards, and zero touchdown catches.
The Vikings could move on from Treadwell, as he isn’t really helping this team much. Adam Thielen has emerged as one of the biggest surprises of the season and Stefon Diggs is capable of taking a game over, so there really doesn't seem to be a spot for Treadwell anymore.
12 New England Patriots - Dwayne Allen
After the New England Patriots decided to sign tight end Martellus Bennett back on to the team, they need to decide what they want to do with Dwayne Allen. With Rob Gronkowski on one side, and now Bennett on the other, there’s really no room for Allen. Allen received his first pass this season on November 12th against the Broncos, for a touchdown. Before that catch, he hadn't caught a ball all year.
Allen is looking at years where he will be making between $5-7 million, do the Patriots really want to pay that for someone who isn’t getting in the game enough? A big part of this question depends if they decide to keep Bennett for the long term, but with the way Bennett connects with Brady, and of course Gronkowski’s production, Allen may see himself as a free agent very soon.
11 New Orleans Saints - Coby Fleener
With the paycheck the Saints handed Coby Fleener, it’s almost like they expected him to become the next Jimmy Graham. Well, Fleener hasn’t been anywhere near as good as they would like. It may be due to the fact that they have so many weapons on offense. Fleener has played pretty well in the past, but nothing worth a contract that pays around $7 million a year.
A big part that could lead to the Saints releasing Fleener, to save money and possibly bring Jimmy Graham back to the Saints. With Graham being a free agent, it's very possible Graham goes back to the team where he enjoyed most of his success. And it'd sure be an upgrade on Fleener.
10 New York Giants - Ereck Flowers
The offensive line has played a huge part in the struggles of the New York Giants. Well, one play in particular definitely plays a huge part, offensive tackle, Ereck Flowers. He struggles to show quickness towards defensive linemen, and he struggles to physically be able to handle them. As he has shown slight improvements, he tends to be more of a liability then a help to this ball club.
It may be best that the Giants move on, and find another offensive tackle for the future, that this time, they can get right. There’s quite a few players the Giants can drop, but with the criticism of Flowers, it makes the most sense to dump him and move on into the future, leaving his struggles behind.
9 New York Jets - Jermaine Kearse
The trade that sent Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets has been pretty helpful to them, as he has totaled 415 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. But the Jets have another wide receiver that has been playing really well, Robby Anderson. With the way he’s playing, he looks like the future. There isn’t a real need to be paying Kearse $5 million with a young talent playing really well. A better way about going about this situation, is try and get some money back by releasing Kearse, and use that to help spend money on other positions that are struggling. They may even be able to find a cheaper receiver with equal amount of talent, that can help this offense.
8 Oakland Raiders - Marshawn Lynch
The return of Beast Mode, has been a bit of a disappointment. Marshawn Lynch joined the Oakland Raiders in hopes of helping take his hometown team to the Super Bowl, while also dominating on the football field. Well, neither thing he wanted has been happening. The Raiders have hit a wall, and have been struggling a lot more than anyone expected.
The Raiders are failing to live up to the high expectations everyone had for them going into this season. Lynch himself has failed to live up to his own expectations. The Raiders need a run game to help Derek Carr, and with Lynch’s struggles on the field playing and following the rules, it’s time to man up and release him, and allow him to choose his own fate.
7 Philadelphia Eagles - Vinny Curry
The Philadelphia Eagles are paying Vinny Curry way too much for a defensive end that is putting up mediocre numbers. This team has plenty of weapons on the defensive line and linebacker position, and quite frankly, they can survive without having to pay Curry another $9 million each year through 2020. The money that the Eagles can save, can be used to help this secondary, or even replace Curry and add some depth to this defense. But the money they’re willing to give this guy, is not deserved.
With the way, this Eagles defense is playing, Curry might be willing to take a pay cut to stay with them. We have to remember the Eagles will soon have to start worrying about paying their young stars through long-term extensions.
6 Pittsburgh Steelers - Martavis Bryant
Is it really worth holding on to Martavis Bryant after this season, even with all the drama he causes? With Juju Smith-Schuster playing at a high level, the Steelers already have their number one and two guys for the wide receiver corps. There’s no need to have a no.3 wide receiver that causes drama, and talks poorly about teammates. Bryant seems like more of a distraction to this team than anything.
The Steelers should go about this first by looking for a trade partner. If they can’t find anyone to trade with, then just release Bryant. It’s not worth the hassle of having drama in the clubhouse, to try and see what this guy’s true talent is. For the way he’s been playing, the Steelers can survive without him, and give Juju a true chance to dominate.
5 San Francisco 49ers - Kyle Juszczyk
You would probably have to pay someone the amount of Kyle Juszczyk’s contract just to figure out how to pronounce his name. The 49ers own Juszczyk around $2.5 million next year, and then around $4 million to $5 million the following two years. Nowadays, not many teams really use fullbacks to run the ball much anymore. And yeah, maybe the 49ers are trying to be creative, but they’re already out of playoff contention, so clearly what they’re doing isn’t working.
This team should cut Juszczyk’s contract, that way they can use the money to rebuild other positions on this team. Like the Browns, the 49ers have many positions to fill, and the fullback position shouldn’t be a position they are spending a good penny on.
4 Seattle Seahawks - Richard Sherman
The end of an era is here. Who knows if we will see if Richard Sherman in a Seahawks uniform ever again, especially after he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon injury, which will hold him out for the rest of the season. The injury is a six-month healing process, which could affect his game, when he returns to play next season. And even if he plays, it’s a huge question mark on how he plays.
Going into 2018, he will be 30 years old coming off of a huge injury, so could see a completely new player. Of course, the Seahawks are going to try and trade Sherman elsewhere rather than lose him for nothing. But, a lot of teams may play it the same way they did with Tony Romo, and hope they release him, and let Sherman decide where he wants to head to.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Doug Martin
The Buccaneers still have quite some time to have to pay Doug Martin some good money. Martin is under contract with the Bucs until the end of 2020, making about $7 million a year. Martin originally looked like he would be one of the top running backs in the league, but has suffered quite the number of injuries, playing mediocre at best.
The Bucs may have to just release Martin, and prevent them from hurting with paying Martin all this money, when he just simply can’t produce. The Buccaneers need a running game to be successful, and that game does not start with Doug Martin. The offense has been incredibly disappointing this year and the backfield needs to be addressed before next season.
2 Tennessee Titans - Kevin Dodd
If you don’t know much about Kevin Dodd, that’s because well, he hasn’t played much on the field. Dodd has suffered numerous amounts of injuries which have prevented him from playing a lot of football. Throughout two years in the league, Dodd has only played 11 out of 25 games, only having six tackles and one sack (as of this writing). Even when Dodd is on the field, it doesn’t seem like he is much of a factor. Unfortunately, Dodd just struggles to stay healthy, and might not have a career with football.
Instead of the Titans playing around with him, they should just cut their loss and release him. As great as a story as it would be to see him come back and play really well, the chances are slim with his repeated injuries he has suffered throughout his football career.
1 Washington Redskins - Robert Kelley
The Washington Redskins have a pretty good offense lined up, but they struggle to have a consistent running back that can balance out this offense. Robert Kelley has been one of those backs, rushing in 2017 through Week 10 for 194 yards and three touchdowns, averaging about 3.1 yards per carry.
The other man who’s been getting a lot of reps, has been Chris Thompson, who has rushed for 277 yards and five touchdowns, averaging about 5.2 yards per carry. Kelley seems to be the negative part about this run game, and the Redskins look like they’re ready to turn the ball over to Thompson.
As this team could still use another running back to give some help to Thompson, Kelley doesn’t look like he will be a part of the team’s future.