An offseason roster purge is an annual occurrence with NFL teams. Players are released and occasionally traded primarily when salaries aren't deemed to match production.
A majority of the time when a player is traded or released, there is a residual cap charge, commonly referred to as dead money. It exists because the remaining proration of the salary components that are treated like signing bonus immediately accelerate into his team's current salary cap with a trade or release. Dead money is typically a sunk cost where money isn't owed to a player. Only if there are salary guarantees when a player is released will there be a payment associated with dead money.
There are two major exceptions to this general rule of bonus proration accelerating. Only the current year's proration counts toward the cap with players released or traded after June 1. The bonus proration in future contract years is delayed until the next league year beginning in the following March. A team can also release two players each league year prior to June 1 (known as a post-June 1 designation) that will be treated under the cap as if they were released after June 1. With a post-June 1 designation, a team is required to carry the player's full cap number until June 2, even though he is no longer a part of the roster. The player's salary comes off the books at that time, unless it is guaranteed.
Here's a look at 10 noteworthy players who could be in different uniforms next season, mostly because of their contracts.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $26.5 million
2019 Compensation: $18.5 million
2019 Dead Money: $16 million ($8 million with post-June 1 treatment)
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $8 million ($18.5 Million with post-June 1 treatment)
The Ravens put Flacco on notice by taking 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson with the last pick in the first round of last April's NFL draft. Flacco's hip injury in early November gave Jackson an opportunity to start. The Super Bowl XLVII MVP never got back in the starting lineup because Jackson provided a spark, which helped the Ravens reach the playoffs. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh anticipated there would be a strong trade market for Flacco shortly after his team was eliminated by the Chargers in the AFC divisional playoffs. Trading Flacco may be easier said than done.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $22.165 million
2019 Compensation: $15.25 million
2019 Dead Money: $21.12 million
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $1.045 million
The Steelers trading Brown seemed inevitable when team president Art Rooney II recently said it was "hard to envision" the seven-time Pro Bowler returning next season. Brown going AWOL after a practice incident with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the days leading up to the regular-season finale against the Bengals prompted head coach Mike Tomlin to bench him even though the game had playoff implications. Rooney appeared to have softened his stance earlier this week in a conference call with Steelers fans. A trade would likely occur before the fifth day of the upcoming league year (March 17) when Brown is due a $2.5 million roster bonus. The trading period resumes on March 13, the first day of the 2019 league year.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $23.2 million
2019 Compensation: $17 million
2019 Dead Money: $6.2 million
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $17 million
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was unwilling to commit to Manning remaining as starting quarterback for 2019 during his season-ending press conference. Manning is entering the final year of a four-year, $84 million contract extension signed in 2015. The 38 year old can't be dealt to another team -- in the unlikely event that the Giants could find a taker -- without his permission. Manning has a no-trade clause in his contract, which he has been unwilling to waive so far. A decision about Manning will come quickly because of a $5 million fifth-day-of-the-league-year roster bonus due next March 17. Regardless of the decision with Manning, the Giants are expected to use the sixth-overall pick in the 2019 draft to select a quarterback.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $21.5 million
2019 Compensation: $14.5 million (includes $6.5 million 2019 base salary guarantee)
2019 Dead Money: $16.5 million ($11.5 million with post-June 1 treatment)
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $5 million ($10 million with post-June 1 treatment)
The Jaguars going all-in on Blake Bortles after an unexpected playoff run to the AFC Championship Game last season proved to be a big mistake. Bortles was given a two-year, $34.497 million extension (worth up to another $12.5 million through salary escalators and incentives) with $26.5 million fully guaranteed, instead of allowing him to play the 2018 season on his $19.053 million fifth-year option. He took such a step backwards after being an effective game manager in 2017 that he was benched for four games in early December for Cody Kessler, who didn't fare any better, until the regular season finale. Since the guarantee has an offset, Jacksonville could recoup the entire $6.5 million (and the cap space) if Bortles makes at least that amount next season from another team. The Jaguars are expected look for a veteran to start at quarterback next season, either through a trade or in free agency.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $13 million
2019 Compensation: $13 million
2019 Dead Money: None
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $13 million
McCoy may not be an ideal fit in the 3-4 scheme new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is expected to employ. His streak of being selected to six-straight Pro Bowls came to an end this season.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $13,166,668
2019 Compensation: $8 million
2019 Dead Money: $2,666,668
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $10.5 million
The Eagles can exercise an option for the 37 year old's 2019 contract year anytime before the end of the 2018 league year on March 13. Peters can still play at a fairly high level although there are durability concerns. Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has filled in for Peters the last couple of years when Peters has been hurt, could get first crack at left tackle if the Eagles don't pick up the option or with his retirement.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $26,611,666
2019 Compensation: $18.75 million
2019 Dead Money: $13,423,334 ($7,861,666 with post-June 1 treatment)
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $13,188,332 ($18.75 million with post-June 1 treatment)
The Dolphins converting $16.685 million of Tannehill's $17.475 million 2018 base salary into signing bonus for salary-cap purposes suggested that his roster spot in 2019 would be secure. Tannehill's inconsistency and head coach Adam Gase's firing have put his place in jeopardy.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $10.075 million
2019 Compensation: $7 million
2019 Dead Money: $3.075 million
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $7 million
The Cowboys would like the often-injured Lee back next season, but at a reduced rate. Lee is more of a luxury than a necessity with the emergence of 2018 first round pick Leighton Vander Esch and 2016 second-round pick Jaylon Smith. Once Lee returned from hamstring injuries that sidelined him for several games this season, he saw only spot duty. Lee had been an every-down linebacker the last few years, when healthy. The 32 year old was on the field 18.7% of the time (25 of 134 defensive plays) during Dallas' two playoff games.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $14 million
2019 Compensation: $14 million
2019 Dead Money: None
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $14 million
Will Fuller's ACL tear prompted the Texans to acquire Thomas from the Broncos for a 2019 fourth-round pick before the late October trading deadline. Thomas, a nine-year NFL veteran, isn't thinking about retirement after a late-season Achilles tear. He reportedly wants to finish his career with the Texans. Thomas staying in Houston beyond this season already depended on how receptive he was going to be about taking a pay cut before the Achilles injury, because his salary is too high for a second or third wide receiver.
2019 Salary Cap Number: $15 million
2019 Compensation: $13 million
2019 Dead Money: $4 million
2019 Salary Cap Savings: $11 million
After making 42-straight starts since signing a six-year, $85.5 million contract (worth up to $90 million through salary escalators) in 2016, Jackson was demoted to where he was a third-down pass rusher late in the season. The Jaguars having the NFL's second most 2019 salary cap commitments at just under $208 million ensures that numerous personnel changes will be made.
Vic Beasley, DE, Falcons: $12.81 million 2019 salary cap savings (fifth year option)
Zach Brown, LB, Redskins: $5.750 million 2019 salary cap savings
Pierre Garcon, WR 49ers: $1.075 million 2019 salary cap savings ($5.875 million with post-June 1 treatment)
DeSean Jackson, WR, Buccaneers: $10 million 2019 salary cap savings
DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins: $9.387 million 2019 salary cap savings (fifth year option)