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The Denver Broncos are likely to soon move on from quarterback Russell Wilson, the veteran signal-caller who went 11-19 as their starting QB in the two seasons since his blockbuster trade from the Seattle Seahawks. Releasing Wilson would leave the Broncos with $85 million in dead money and also a gaping hole at a position that the team hasn't been able to successfully fill since Peyton Manning's retirement in 2016. Long-time backup Jarrett Stidham started the final two games in 2023, but Denver is surely to add more at the position this offseason. However, it remains to be seen if the Broncos will add to the position in free agency, through the draft, or via a trade. It's all on the table, but whichever direction they go, it's more likely than not that they'll be going cheap at QB in 2024.
The Athletic's Nick Kosmider writes that Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (Achilles) stands out as an obvious cut candidate as the team enters the offseason at around $24 million over the salary cap threshold. Patrick has missed each of the last two years with injuries suffered during training camp -- first a torn ACL in 2022, and then a torn Achilles in 2023. The injuries came on the heels of a three-year, $30 million deal that he signed with the team in November of 2021, which came with $18.5 million guaranteed. The 30-year-old is set to count $15.5 million against the cap this year, but he has no guaranteed money left on his deal. Releasing him would free up $9.5 million in cap space. Patrick was one of the more underrated pass-catchers before his two season-ending injuries, but his fantasy stock has gone out the window due to his two unfortunate injuries the last two summers.
The Athletic's Jon Machota suggests that wide receiver Michael Gallup is a potential cut candidate this offseason. The 27-year-old has three years left on the five-year, $57.5 million extension he signed in March of 2022. He was coming off a season-ending knee injury when he signed that deal, and he hasn't been the same player since. Gallup averaged 975 receiving yards and 5.5 touchdowns per season in 2019 and 2020, but he hasn't had more than 445 yards in a season since. He caught all six of his targets for 103 yards in the wild-card loss to the Packers, his best game of the last two years. If Dallas cuts Gallup before June, they'll be left with $13 million in dead-cap money in 2024, which would only save them around $800,000 in 2024 because his cap hit for 2024 is $13.85 million. A pay cut is probably coming for Gallup if he's not released.
The Athletic's Saad Yousuf writes that linebacker is a position of need for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, as well as running back, defensive line and offensive line with uncertainty surrounding Tyron Smith and Tyler Biadasz's future. At linebacker, Leighton Vander Esch's future is uncertain, at best, and 2023 rookie DeMarvion Overshown has yet to play in the NFL and is coming off a major injury. Dallas is going to need to acquire quality starting linebackers this offseason if they want to keep All-Pro Micah Parsons as a pass-rusher. The Cowboys' defense was very strong in 2023 before falling apart in their embarrassing wild-card loss to the Green Bay Packers, but they're going to need to address the linebacker position if they want their pass rush to remain a strength.
The Cleveland Browns' vertical passing game didn't really take off until quarterback Deshaun Watson (shoulder) was already out for the year with a shoulder injury in November of last year. Cleveland feels good having receiver Amari Cooper and tight end David Njoku leading their pass-catching group, but the rest of the bunch has plenty of question marks. The Athletic's Zac Jackson suggests that the Browns need more speed, and probably more size and consistency, at the position. They will almost certainly add to their receiver room in both March (in free agency) and in April (in the draft). Veteran slot man Elijah Moore certainly didn't make as much of an impact as the front office expected him to when they acquired him from the New York Jets.
Chicago Bears fullback Khari Blasingame is the team's next candidate to be released this offseason after the Bears already released safety Eddie Jackson and guard/center Cody Whitehair in cost-cutting moves. The moves to release Jackson and Whitehair saved nearly $22 million against the 2024 salary cap. Releasing Blasingame would result in $1.6 million in savings with no dead money left on the books. He's a true fullback who could fit into new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's visions, but he's also a stalwart on special teams. The 27-year-old has played in 32 games (eight starts) for the Bears the last two years and has just eight carries for 26 yards and three receptions for two yards.
Outside of pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson, the Cincinnati Bengals didn't have much of a pass rush in 2023. Hendrickson had 17.5 sacks and 79 pressures. Sam Hubbard was second on the team in sacks at six, while B.J. Hill was second in pressures with 42. The Bengals could also lose defensive tackle DJ Reader, who tore his quadriceps muscle in December, in free agency. Cincinnati needs to find a way to get constant pressure up the middle to complement their edge rushers, and they need a disruptive complement for Hill at the three-technique position. The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr. writes that the Bengals really just need any help they can get at defensive tackle this offseason.
The Cleveland Browns want to keep running back Nick Chubb (knee) around, but he's also recovering from two surgeries on his injured knee this offseason and is due to carry a salary cap charge of just under $16 million in 2024, the final year of his contract and his age-28 season. The Browns would take on around $4 million in dead money if they were to cut Chubb. The Athletic's Zac Jackson points out that Chubb's contract was structured long before his injury. When healthy, Chubb has been one of the league's best RBs, but the Browns also need to account for every penny on their salary cap now and into the foreseeable future. Chubb will mostly likely be back in 2024, but he'll be a risk/reward fantasy selection coming off a gruesome knee injury early last year.
Miami Dolphins left tackle Terron Armstead is fully expected to return in 2024 to play another season. Armstead left his playing future in doubt in January after the team was eliminated by the Kansas City Chiefs in the wild-card round of the playoffs, but it appears that he plans to continue playing. His 2024 salary, which is already partially guaranteed, will become fully guaranteed on March 16. The 32-year-old Pro Bowler has dealt with injuries in each of the last three seasons, which is probably the biggest reason why he was initially considering retirement. But when he's healthy, Armstead is one of the best left tackles in rfootball, so his announcement to return for another season is good news for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the rest of the Dolphins offense.
During an appearance on the St. Brown Bros podcast, Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields, who has been the subject of trade rumors since the Bears secured the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft, said on Wednesday that he wants to stay in Chicago. "If it was up to me I would stay in Chicago. I love the city. The city's lit. The fans there, they're great. But it's a business. I ain't got no control over it, so whatever happens happens," Fields said. The 24-year-old said the Bears haven't informed him what they plan to do. Multiple teams, including the Falcons, will surely be interested in the dual-threat QB if the Bears indeed plan to trade him. Fields missed some time with injury in 2023 but showed improvement late in the year and will almost certainly be in play as a QB1 in fantasy in 2024, perhaps even more so if he's traded.
Kansas City Chiefs edge rusher Charles Omenihu (knee) suffered a torn ACL in the AFC Championship Game victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The 26-year-old confirmed he had successful surgery to repair the injury on Tuesday. He's likely to miss most, if not all of the team's preseason activities. He could even begin the 2024 season on the PUP list. After returning from his two-game suspension to start the 2023 campaign, Omenihu totaled seven sacks and two forced fumbles in his first regular season with the organization. He posted a strip sack on Lamar Jackson in the AFC title game before his major injury. Although he's mostly a rotational player, his absence could hurt the Kansas City front seven.
Minnesota Vikings safety Theo Jackson is re-signing with the team ahead of the 2024 season. Originally a sixth-round pick out of the University of Tennessee in 2022, Jackson was released during final roster cuts by the Tennessee Titans. Minnesota signed him afterward, and he has been a key special teams contributor and rotational defensive back over the last two seasons. The 25-year-old has compiled 30 tackles, one interception, and one pass defended in 26 games to start his career.
The Los Angeles Rams have informed center Brian Allen that he is being released. Allen was selected by the franchise with a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and has played in 50 games with 32 starts. He played in just five games in 2023 with zero starts. The 28-year-old is unlikely to draw interest as a starter elsewhere, but several NFL franchises struggle with offensive line depth every year, so his experience will make him an attractive backup during free agency.
Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson has been a full-time starter since he arrived as a second-round pick out of LSU in 2018, but The Athletic's Joseph Person lists him as a potential salary cap casualty this offseason. Cutting the 28-year-old defensive back would create almost $6 million in salary cap space for the Panthers this offseason, but it would also leave them with $9.8 million in dead money. Jackson was unable to pick off a pass in 2023 for the first time in his career, but he started 16 games (the most since his rookie year) and was solid in run support. The Panthers must also consider fellow cornerback Jaycee Horn's lengthy injury history when considering whether to cut Jackson. The Panthers only have a few obvious potential salary cap cuts outside of Jackson.
The Baltimore Ravens need to create some salary cap space this offseason, which could lead to some cost-cutting moves, and linebacker Tyus Bowser (knee) is the most likely cap cut. Veterans like offensive tackles Morgan Moses and Ronnie Stanley and fullback Patrick Ricard could also be involved. The 28-year-old Bowser spent all of last year on the Non-Football Injury list due to a mysterious offseason knee injury. When healthy, Bowser has been a solid player for the Ravens, but he's missed 27 games over the last two seasons due to injury. The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec writes that creating $5.5 million in salary cap space by cutting Bowser feels like a no-brainer move for the team.
Arizona Cardinals offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) has been an anchor for the team's offensive line since he entered the league in 2016. He's been a team captain and a respected voice in the locker room. However, he just turned 30 years old and he's likely to miss most of the 2024 season while recovering from surgery on his ACL. Humphries will have a $22.9 million salary cap number this year, and cutting him would save the Cardinals around $9 million. General manager Monti Ossenfort has more work to do with the team's offensive line this season, even though they exceeded expectations in 2023. If the team moves on from Humphries, Paris Johnson Jr., who had an impressive rookie season at right tackle, could move over to the left side to protect quarterback Kyler Murray's blind side.
The Athletic's Josh Kendall lists Atlanta Falcons veteran tight end Jonnu Smith as a potential cut candidate this offseason. Smith was the team's fourth-leading receiver in 2023, but the Falcons could face some offensive upheaval this offseason with a new coaching staff coming in. Former head coach Arthur Smith kept a tight end-heavy roster, but new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson comes from the Los Angeles Rams' 11-personnel-heavy offense, meaning that Kyle Pitts may be the only tight end the team needs now. The Rams' backup tight end, Davis Allen, caught just 10 passes last year. Smith had 50 receptions a year ago, but cutting him this offseason would give the Falcons $6.5 million more salary cap room. If Smith remains in Atlanta, fantasy managers should expect a serious drop in production.
Atlanta Falcons new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson sees tight end Kyle Pitts as very versatile. He's mainly been used in the passing game and had 667 receiving yards on 53 catches in his third NFL season in 2023. Pitts can also be an asset when it comes to blocking in the running game, too. "We're not oblivious to the fact of his skill sets, what he does bring to the team from a receiving standpoint, so there are a lot of things that you can do to be creative and use his skill set in the pass game," new tight ends coach Kevin Koger said. "But with him and the way we're going to run the ball and the athleticism he does have, there are a lot of things he can do in the run game to help us out to win football games." It sounds like Pitts is going to be moved around a lot, and the new coaching staff should be able to use him more effectively than Arthur Smith did in his three years with Pitts on the team.
The Chicago Bears are dedicated to bringing back impending free-agent cornerback Jaylon Johnson, which might require the franchise tag. The Bears will also likely look to upgrade their defensive line this offseason, including adding an additional pass-rusher to complement Montez Sweat. Johnson, 24, was the team's second-round pick in 2020 out of Utah and was a big reason why Chicago's secondary was one of the better units in the league in 2023. He had a career year as a first-time Pro Bowler and finished with 36 tackles (31 solo), a career-high four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 10 passes defensed and a forced fumble in 14 starts in his fourth year in the NFL.
NewOrleans.Football's Nick Underhill believes that New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak is going to bring a running game that will give running back Alvin Kamara "more space" to operate in 2024. Kubiak, who comes to New Orleans from the San Francisco 49ers, is expected to add plenty of pre-snap motion, something the Saints rarely did in 2023. The 28-year-old Kamara finished second among all RBs last year with 75 catches on 86 targets for 466 yards and a touchdown through the air. He added 180 rushing attempts for 694 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, so perhaps the addition of Kubiak will make Kamara more productive on the ground next season. Still, fantasy managers should have hesitations about Kamara's overall effectiveness as a rusher as he enters his age-29 campaign in 2024.
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