We’re going to be hearing a whole lot about NFL salary cap casualties over the course of the next few weeks leading up to the start of free agency in March.
The NFL salary cap has been set for the 2023 season. Teams now know exactly what type of situation they are in right now.
It’s in this that front offices around the league are already preparing what to do during the offseason. Teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints are in cap hell. They’ll have to move off big-name and high-priced players. Other Pro Bowlers will also soon hit the unemployment line.
Below, we look at the 40 most-likely NFL salary cap casualties for the 2023 offseason.
Jameis Winston, quarterback, New Orleans Saints
This former No. 1 pick started just three games for the Saints in 2022, throwing four touchdowns against five interceptions. Right now, it seems likely that he’ll be calling another city home in 2023.
Despite New Orleans’ quarterback situation being a hot mess, head coach Dennis Allen rolled with Andy Dalton over Jameis Winston last season. That tells us all we need to know about Winston’s future in the Bayou. He has a cap number of $15.6 million. If New Orleans were to release Winston with a post-June 1 designation, it would save $12.8 million. Given the team’s disastrous cap situation ($57.38 million over the 2023 NFL salary cap), this is an obvious move.
Harrison Smith, safety, Minnesota Vikings
One of the first NFL salary cap casualties we’re expecting this offseason is this six-time Pro Bowl performer. While Smith did record five interceptions in 2022, he also yielded an absurd 80% completion rate when targeted. That is, by far, the worst number of his career. In reality, the 33-year-old Smith has regressed big time in coverage.
There’s a couple other backdrops to this belief. Youngster Lewis Cine could potentially move over from free safety to strong safety. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s cap relief if it were to designate Smith a post-June 1 cut would be a whopping $15.21 million.
Shaquil Barrett, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This former undrafted free agent out of Colorado State is one of the true success stories in the modern NFL. Barrett, 30, performed well in four seasons with the Denver Broncos before heading to Tampa Bay ahead of the 2019 campaign. He responded by leading the NFL in sacks with 19.5 in his first season with the Bucs.
Unfortunately, Barrett is coming off an injury-plagued 2022 season in which he recorded just three sacks in eight games. He’s on the wrong side of 30 and set to count $21.65 million against the salary cap next season. Tampa can save $14.6 million by releasing him while relying on a young edge guy in Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to continue his growth.