10 Potential Big-Name Wide Receiver Salary-Cap Casualties
Did someone say "salary-cap casualty?"
Those words are like music to ears of General Manager Ozzie Newsome.
But for this year's crop of free agent wide receivers, watch out. Those words are like nails on a chalkboard.
The marketplace could drastically change in the next week with a flood of veteran pass catchers projected to hit the scene. If they do, it could turn into a buyer's market. That's good news for teams, but bad news for wide receivers like Torrey Smith who is looking for a big payday.
"I'm not sure it's the best time in the world to be a free agent wide receiver," wrote CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora.
"Yes, there are only a precious few quality options at that position in free agency right now, but, man, that could be changing with a host of receivers, many of them aging receivers, carrying bloated contracts. There still could be a salary-cap bloodletting to come among the pass catchers in this league."
Smith is considered as one of those "precious few quality options" scheduled to hit the market – especially with reports revealing this weekend that Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas will be tagged today before the deadline. But he could face a lot of new competition for bidders if he tests the free- agency waters.
"It certainly won't help the earning potential of guys like Torrey Smith," asserted La Canfora.
And if Smith explores his options outside of Charm City, you can bet the Ravens will explore, too. This could be another year where they find good value with an immediate impact player like they did with Steve Smith Sr. after he was released by the Carolina Panthers last year.
"So while it's been quiet in terms of receiver transactions thus far, stay tuned," wrote La Canfora. "Smart teams – Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England – to name a few, would rather sign released veterans in free agency (who don't count against the clubs in the equation for compensatory picks), often getting a bargain in the process.
"There are simply too many receivers who don't make sense for their current teams at their current price."
Before these veterans with bloated salaries hit the market, La Canfora expects their current teams to attempt a trade in order to get something *before letting them go, *but he doubts any actual trades will go down.
As such, below are La Canfora's 10 potential wide receiver salary-cap casualties, and he has "no doubt" at least three or four big names will become available:
Dolphins' Mike Wallace (28): $12.1 million cap hit*"Wallace might have a hard time getting half of his current average salary per season on the open market and I continue to hear he's interested in a return to Pittsburgh, though it remains to be seen how the Steelers feel about that." *
Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson (32): $12.2 million cap hit
"Jackson will not agree to a pay cut, sources said, and the Bucs have plenty of cap space and need all the assets they can get, especially with it looking more and more like a done deal that they draft quarterback Jameis Winston first overall. … I suspect he is one guy from this group who sticks around."
Texans' Andre Johnson (33): $16.1 million cap hit "Just converting his base salary to bonus and pushing the cap burden into the future might not be what's best for Houston, while Johnson is no longer the go-to receiver there. I'm not convinced his future is in Houston, but time will tell."
Jets' Percy Harvin (26): $10.5 million cap hit
"Harvin will not accept a pay cut of any sort to stay with the Jets, and several teams covet him on a short-term deal. Even more telling is New York really can't afford to pay him $10M this season. Trading Harvin on his current contract would be impossible, and this continues to look like an imminent release."
Chiefs' Dwayne Bowe (30): $14 million cap hit"While the Chiefs lack weapons as well on offense as it stands, paying Dwayne Bowe $11M with a $14M cap hit at a time when the club is desperate for cap space is a luxury they can't afford. Maybe Bowe takes a cut to stay – the money that will be there for him on the open market won't be close to what he's scheduled to make after some down years in Kansas City – but this situation will come to a head one way or the other."
Bears' Brandon Marshall (30): $9.575 million cap hit
"Do the Bears still really want Brandon Marshall? The regime that acquired and signed him is gone, last season was a wreck on offense, Marshall's long had a connection with quarterback Jay Cutler – who may be on the outs himself – and new coach John Fox wants to clean up the locker room and hasn't exactly committed to having the receiver on the team next year. Marshall's trade value has dipped through the years, but I wouldn't discount a team or two being interested should Chicago start making calls."
49ers' Anquan Boldin (34): $6.9 million cap hit; Stevie Johnson (28): $6.025 cap hit
"The 49ers still have issues to sort through themselves. Do they want to pay Anquan Boldin $6M for this season (including game-day bonuses)? Half that figure ($3M) becomes guaranteed this spring if he is still on the roster. Stevie Johnson will hit the market as well, with a staggering $5.5M due to him this season, and Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd are free agents. I wouldn't be surprised if only one of that group, at most, is back there next season."
Saints' Marques Colston (31): $9.7 million cap hit
"The Saints very much want to keep Marques Colston at a reduced salary (his current $7M base salary isn't going to fly anywhere) but will the cap-strapped team be able to make that happen? I wouldn't bet against it."
*Vikings' Greg Jennings (31): $11 million cap hit *"Are the Vikings content to pay a declining Greg Jennings another $9M (base salary) this season? He's a tremendous pro and invaluable as a leader and mentor on a young offense, but that contract has long stuck out as one where the player and agent got the best of the team."
Forsett Doesn't Want To Be One-Year Wonder
With eight days remaining before the new league year, running back Justin Forsett hasn't changed his tune in terms of his hopes for a new contract.
He would like to stay in Baltimore if possible. But more than anything, he is looking for a long-term contract and wants to avoid falling off the face of the (NFL) earth after one Pro Bowl season in which he averaged 5.4 yards per carry (highest among running backs).
"I want to build upon [last season]," Forsett told The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. "I want to be great. I didn't come in this league to be a one-year wonder. Every time I got an opportunity I was able to seize it and I want to continue to do that."
Forsett is staying in shape, getting ready to put in his best regardless of what team he ends up playing for. He has already met new Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman, and the Ravens said they would like to bring him back to be a mentor to younger backs in addition to churning out yards.
"I would love to stay here," Forsett said. "I want to be here in Baltimore. They gave me my shot, gave me my opportunity. But then again, there's that business side we have to work out. I'm praying that everything works out."
Rice: I See Why People Commit Suicide
Former Ravens running back Ray Rice sat down with Wilson for an hour-long interview, explaining that he has no hard feelings toward the Ravens and Owner Steve Bisciotti for cutting him hours after video evidence of his domestic violence was released. He also feels he has unfinished business in the Baltimore community.
Rice hopes to find another job in the NFL, stressing he can still produce, but understands there is a PR downside for any team that signs him to a deal. Rice was emotional when reflecting on his nightmare year.
"The big picture of it all, being the person that I am, I really felt horrible," Rice told Wilson. "You almost want to punish yourself. I know I'm never going to win the battle of public opinion. Honestly, I almost felt like at one point that it wasn't worth living. I see why people commit suicide.
"It hurt that bad. I was low, real low. It hurt that bad because you worked your whole life to do all the right things and then you're the world's most hated person. It was really tough. My daughter, oh Lord, I grew up without a father, there's no way I could check out on my own family."
For the full Rice interview, click here.
Ravens Rank Second In NFL Dead Money
The Ravens front office is known for getting creative when it comes to navigating the salary cap, and this year they will be especially put to the test.
In addition to reconfiguring the top two cap figures on the roster – reportedly Haloti Ngata ($16 million) and Lardarius Webb ($10 million) – Ravens brass is going to figure out how to live with a huge amount of dead money.
The Ravens reportedly rank second in the league with $12.5 million in dead money, trailing only the Detroit Lions with $17.3 million. It's not like Baltimore to have that much dead money, and the majority of it comes from two sources: Rice ($9.5 million) and Jacoby Jones ($2.625 million).
"Consider this: Rice represents a higher cap number than all but three Ravens (defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, quarterback Joe Flacco and cornerback Lardarius Webb) and he's not going to play a snap for the team," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "With Jones, his dead money is more than the cap numbers of C.J. Mosley, Courtney Upshaw, Kelechi Osemele and Rick Wagner."
When the Ravens cut Rice, his remaining three years of pro-rated bonuses were accelerated over two seasons. The majority fell onto the 2015 cap table. If the Ravens can't agree to an extension with Ngata, the Ravens will add another $7.5 million of dead money with his release, per Hensley.
Ravens-Patriots Divisional Matchup Mic'd
MMQB.com and SI.com's Peter King screened the NFL Films' annual Super Bowl champion video, and said there is some "priceless" footage from the divisional playoff game between the Ravens and Patriots.
"There's an incredulous look from John Harbaugh when the Patriots did the unbalanced line trickeration," wrote King. "During a timeout, Julian Edelman—a big star in this miking—said to ref Bill Vinovich, 'You guys are getting your money's worth with them formations.' Vinovich gave Edelman a wide-eyed look, as if to say, 'Where did THAT come from?'
"Before the Patriots called the option pass from Edelman to Danny Amendola in the second half, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels went to Edelman and said: "I don't need any lead time with the double pass, do I?'' Edelman said to him, 'What do you mean?' McDaniels: 'I don't have to tell you it's coming.' Edelman: 'Nah.' And soon it came, and Edelman executed his first NFL pass perfectly … On Baltimore's last drive, with the Ravens trailing by four, Edelman was caught on mike saying, 'Hey Flacco, throw us one.' And Joe Flacco did."