Every draft class brings a wave of rookies primed to unseat veterans, which ultimately leads to their release. Sometimes those cuts are surprising. Other times we can see them coming from a mile away. The cost of young, springy players makes it alluring for teams to utilize them as contributors over pricey, established players, even if there's some element of unknown with the first-year pros.
Let's take a look at the veterans most likely to be on the chopping block after the draft.
NE • WR • 15
Cap savings if released: $4.8M
Potential rookie replacement: Tyquan Thornton
Nelson Agholor's contract is starting to stick out like a sore thumb on the Patriots' books. His 2022 cap hit is $14.8 million, and while New England likely doesn't want to absorb $10M in dead cap this season, they could afford to do it. It doesn't feel like the ideal time to remove receiving weapons from the offense for second-year quarterback Mac Jones, but the Patriots do have plenty of pass-catching bodies on the roster now.
And what is Agholor's specialty? Speed. Thornton ran 4.26 at the combine and is a more intimidating presence at nearly 6-3. A late-summer trade actually feels more likely for Agholor.
BAL • OT • 60
Cap savings if released: $3M
Potential rookie replacement: Daniel Faalele
Ja'Wuan James did sign a two-year deal with the Ravens during the 2021 offseason but has yet to suit up for the Ravens on game day. He was on the NFI list last year and is now inching toward 30. We've barely seen James play in an NFL game at all, as he opted out of the 2020 season and only appeared in three contests in 2019 with the Broncos before landing on the IR list because of a knee injury.