Now that the 2022 NFL draft is over, teams can turn their full attention toward OTAs and the upcoming season.
That means some veteran players will soon be competing for their jobs.
Between free-agent signings, draft picks and trade acquisitions, every team will have increased competition at certain positions heading into OTAs. As teams begin thinking about the 53-man roster cutdown later this summer, they'll have to decide which players to keep around.
Not every team has a major household name who could be cut. Large guaranteed contracts play a massive factor in job security. Front offices typically prefer avoiding dead cap hits unless it results in considerable financial flexibility or a huge haul of assets.
Here, we'll go through all 32 NFL teams and find the best player who could be cut during the 2022 offseason. These players are either facing stiff competition at their positions, have bloated salaries that make them a potential cap casualty or both.
Arizona Cardinals: Andy Isabella, WR
The Arizona Cardinals overhauled their receiving room this offseason, and they might not be done just yet.
Christian Kirk, who led the team with 77 receptions for 982 yards and five touchdowns last season, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. With DeAndre Hopkins facing a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy, the Cardinals traded their first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who played with quarterback Kyler Murray at Oklahoma.
The trio of Brown, Rondale Moore and A.J. Green should allow Murray to move the ball down the field during Hopkins' suspension. However, 2019 second-round pick Andy Isabella doesn't appear to be in Arizona's long-term plans after catching only one pass for 13 yards last season.
If the Cardinals did cut Isabella this offseason, they'd save roughly $1.1 million and would be left with a dead cap hit below $350,000. Since he has also played only sparingly on special teams, his roster spot may in jeopardy following the acquisition of Brown.
Atlanta Falcons: Kendall Sheffield, CB
Cornerback Kendall Sheffield once appeared to be a potential steal for the Atlanta Falcons. The 2019 fourth-round pick started 20 games over his first two seasons, tallying 97 tackles and six pass deflections.
Sheffield entered the NFL with raw technique, but his speed and fluidity in coverage raised hope about his continued development. However, he got buried on the depth chart during his first season under defensive coordinator Dean Pees last year.
Sheffield played only 52 defensive snaps all season, all of which came in Week 17. A hamstring injury landed him on injured reserve to start the season, but he was healthy enough to participate on special teams after he was activated.
The Falcons could save more than $2.5 million by cutting Sheffield, and they'd be left with a dead cap hit below $200,000. Their addition of veteran cornerback Casey Hayward and re-signing of Isaiah Oliver may have sealed Sheffield's fate.
Baltimore Ravens: Ja'Wuan James, OT
Some free-agent deals don't work out. Just ask the Denver Broncos about offensive tackle Ja'Waun James.
The Broncos signed James to a four-year, $51 million deal in 2019, but two major injuries and his decision to sit out the 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic led to his release last May. Although he was recovering from a torn Achilles, the Ravens signed him to a two-year, $4.6 million deal knowing that he likely wouldn't be ready to return until 2022.
James did miss the 2021 season as expected, but the Ravens aggressively chased other options to ensure the right tackle position wouldn't be an issue in 2022. They signed veteran Morgan Moses to a three-year deal and selected Daniel Faalele in the fourth round of the draft, which reduced their need for James.
The Ravens could save $2.5 million by cutting James, and they'd be left with only a $750,000 dead cap hit. They could use the money they save on him to spend on a veteran receiver after trading away No. 1 option Marquise "Hollywood" Brown during the 2022 draft.
Buffalo Bills: Zack Moss, RB
The Buffalo Bills' decision to upgrade at running back this offseason likely doesn't bode well for Zack Moss.
Moss lost the starting competition to Devin Singletary last year, and he mustered only 3.6 yards per carry on 96 attempts as a backup. He did add 23 catches for 197 yards and a touchdown as a receiver, but he played only 42 percent of the Bills' offensive snaps.
The Bills signed Duke Johnson to a one-year, $1.3 million contract in March, so he could be in line to absorb some of that receiving work out of the backfield. They also spent the No. 63 overall pick on Georgia running back James Cook, adding even more competition to their running back room.
With Cook and Johnson in the fold, Buffalo could save nearly $1.2 million by cutting Moss and would be left with a dead cap hit below $250,000. Since Moss doesn't play on special teams, he could be on the wrong end of a roster crunch this offseason.
Carolina Panthers: Rashaan Melvin, CB
The Carolina Panthers entered this offseason needing to give their offensive a major facelift. Adding tackle Ikem Ekwonu, center Bradley Bozeman and guard Austin Corbett helped accomplish that feat.
However, that added depth doesn't necessarily mean that the Panthers will be open to parting with veterans Cameron Erving or Pat Elflein. They'd save only $2 million and would be left with a $4.5 million dead cap hit if they released Erving, and Elflein's cap hit ($4.2 million) is smaller than his dead cap hit would be after a release ($6.6 million).
Instead, the Panthers may look to make some cuts along their defense. The most talented player whom they could afford to lose is backup cornerback Rashaan Melvin.
Melvin was a depth piece for Carolina last year after rookie first-round pick Jaycee Horn suffered a broken foot. He has enjoyed success as a journeyman over the last five years and brings value as a plug-and-play veteran, but he turns 33 in October.
With Horn likely to be back at full strength, Melvin may have a hard time beating out recent draft picks Keith Taylor and Troy Pride Jr. for roster spots. Carolina should give the veteran as much time as possible to find a new home once Horn proves he's ready to return.