Which veterans in 2023 stand the best chance of being replaced by a rookie?
Every year around this time, a wave of rookies are selected to replace veterans, which ultimately causes those more experienced players to go from the squad.
Even if there is some element of uncertainty with first-year professionals, the cost of young, springy players makes it alluring for teams to use them as contributors over expensive, experienced players.
Let’s look at the veterans who will probably be cut after the draft. These deals can, of course, be made everywhere in the league, but they tend to be more common on teams that are close to or over the wage cap. I’ve focused my attention on teams that are probably seeking for additional financial breathing room as the summer approaches.
If disclosed, the cap savings would be $15.4M before and after June 1.
Replaceable rookie candidate: Will McDonald IV
Lawson was beneficial to the Jets in 2022, without a doubt. tenacious run defender and ferocious outside rusher. In his first season with Gang Green, he recorded seven sacks in addition to 49 pressures. Was Lawson amazing? unable to say that. Over 430 pass-rushing snaps resulted in those 49 pressures. For an alpha rusher, especially one who is somewhat older and, most importantly, pricey, that close to 11% pressure-creation rate is relatively low.
At No. 15 overall, the Jets selected McDonald, a defender with dimensions comparable to Lawson. Additionally, general manager Joe Douglas selected edge rusher Jermaine Johnson in the first round of the 2022 draft, despite the fact that Micheal Clemons, who was selected in the fifth round the previous year, performed better under pressure at the same position.
There is no way the Jets would cut or trade a known commodity like Lawson on Robert Saleh’s defense since it appears they are all in with Aaron Rodgers and company. But stranger things have happened, and in the NFL, younger, less expensive labor often prevails when it comes to roster positions.
Savings on the cap if released: $1.5M
Marvin Mims might replace the inexperienced player.
This is as obvious as day. In fact, I’m amazed Hamler is currently on the roster. How come that? Due to the fact that Marvin Mims, a wideout of comparable stature and speed, was chosen as Sean Payton’s first pick in Denver to be the true vertical scorcher in his scheme.
While Hamler himself is explosive, he has struggled to stay healthy in the NFL and hasn’t been particularly effective when he has played.
Hamler, who is only 24 years old, would definitely have a sizable market if/when the Broncos released him.
If disclosed, the cap savings would be $8.26M before and after June 1.
Possible substitute for the rookie: Derick Hall
Nwosu played on almost 80% of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps in 2022, contributing significantly to the stat sheet. He recorded 66 stops and 9.5 sacks. However, I don’t believe it would be insane if Seattle released him. And my justification is complex.
Seattle is “effectively” over the limit by more than $4M, which is the biggest amount in the NFL, according to OverTheCap. That indicates that after taking into account their top 51 salary and draft class, the Seahawks are positioned to go over the cap.
In addition, Pete Carroll and John Schneider added Boye Maye, a 2022 second-round pick, Derick Hall, a 2023 second-round pick, and recently used a fifth-round pick to choose Mike Morris. Tyreke Smith, a fifth-round pick from 2022 who missed his rookie season due to injury, will also be returning. The fact that Nwosu is on this list doesn’t mean he’s virtually finished, but at his present price and with the youth surrounding him on Seattle’s defensive line, he might be disposable.
If disclosed, the cap savings would be $2.7M before and after June 1.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah, a rookie, could take over.
The Chiefs have already used George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah, two first-round picks, as edge rushers. Naturally, Kansas City is much more likely to keep veteran players than let them go given their obvious win-now status, and Danna has been a fine soldier on terrific Chiefs teams.
However, GM Brett Veach might find it alluring to free up nearly $3 million, and let’s not forget that Kansas acquired Charles Omenihu this summer. He is an inside-out defensive lineman who will provide the team greater depth down low. Even though Danna gave the Chiefs a good return on investment on a fifth-round pick from 2020, the team has since acquired higher picks and spent money at the defensive end position in an effort to give Chris Jones additional support up front.
If disclosed, the cap savings would be $8.5M before and after June 1.
Potential replacement for a rookie: Emmanuel Forbes
Fuller, who just completed a successful 2022 season, is still a solid outside cornerback. But in Washington, cornerback positions are increasingly competitive. In addition to the young and extraordinarily long Benjamin St-Juste, the cornerback room now features first-round playmaker Emmanuel Forbes.
This offseason, Cam Dantzler was also acquired off waivers. In 2023, does Washington intend to field such a youthful cornerback group? Most likely not. But the Commanders are planned to be over the cap according to OverTheCap. On the books, such savings of about $9M would be very helpful.
Cap savings if released: $19.4M after June 1, $8.9M before June 1.
Michael Wilson, a rookie substitute, could
Hopkins becoming a member of the Cardinals still doesn’t make much sense. I am aware that every new general manager and head coach wants to succeed right away. So it’s not like Jonathan Gannon and Monti Ossenfort are content to punt on their first seasons in those positions in Arizona just because the roster is far worse than the majority of the NFL.
But even in a watered-down NFC, those two must understand that the team isn’t close to contending at a meaningful level. And Hopkins, who will turn 31 in a few months, loses value every day. Those cost reductions are significant, especially if Hopkins is released with the practical post-June 1 designation that would spread the dead cap hit over two years.
No, the Cardinals shouldn’t count on Michael Wilson to fill the superstar-sized hole that Hopkins’ departure would leave. However, by investing a third-round pick in a low-volume perimeter wideout who struggled through an injury-riddled Stanford career, it was made clear that they wanted to emphasize being ready to fill that outside receiver spot in the event that Hopkins is simply required to be released or traded for the organization’s long-term benefit.