With all 32 NFL teams now a few weeks into OTAs and training camps set to get underway soon, a few surprise late-offseason moves are bound to happen as depth charts get next over. Teams are already gauging the players they drafted and the skill sets they bring to the table, meaning tough roster decisions still loom.
When the NFL calendar turns to June 1, the salary cap treatment of cuts and trades changes, and teams can clear more 2022 cap room than prior to June 1. Here’s an in-depth breakdown of the nuances of post-June 1 transactions and how teams can take advantage of the different rules.
Here, we take a look at a few marquee players to keep an eye on with Week 1 of the NFL season now under 100 days away.
LB Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 dead cap: $ 18,980,784
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 cap savings: $ 1,067,059
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 dead cap: $ 5,340,784
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 cap savings: $ 14,707,059
The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz recently reported the Falcons would explore the possibility of trading linebacker Deion Jones after June 1, just as they did with a wide receiver Julio Jones last offseason. The Julio Jones trade obviously aged quite well, with the Tennessee Titans moving on from the future Hall of Famer after just one injury-plagued season. Plus, the Atlanta drafted Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen with the second-round pick acquired in the trade – a player who is all the more important if the Falcons do move on from Deion Jones over the next few months.
This report came prior to the news that Jones underwent shoulder surgery and will be out for the offseason, which will only complicate matters further for Atlanta and will likely make it impossible to convince another team to take on his $ 13.64 million in guaranteed compensation for 2022. He’s coming off by far the worst season of his career, earning a 34.6 overall grade and allowing 884 yards into his coverage – the second-highest among linebackers in 2021.
The dead cap number is so high because Atlanta guaranteed Jones’ $ 9.64 million salary for 2022 when he agreed to a salary deferral in the 2021 offseason to clear cap room. The snowball effect of this poor decision just continues to delay the team’s rebuild. If the Falcons do cut Jones, they will go over $ 80 million in total dead cap for 2022, which represents about 40% of the total 2022 salary cap and would set an NFL record.
G Isaac Seumalo, Philadelphia Eagles
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 dead cap: $ 2,018,000
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 cap savings: $ 5,650,000
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 dead cap: $ 2,018,000
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 cap savings: $ 5,650,000
Pro Football Network lead NFL reporter Mike Kaye recently speculated that guard Isaac Seumalo could be a name to monitor in Philadelphia after the June 1 deadline passes, especially when considering how the Eagles manage their salary cap. Seumalo has played 600 snaps in a season just once over six years, and injuries again limited him to 168 total in 2021. The former third-round pick is a good player when healthy, but staying on the field has been a challenge.
The return of center Jason Kelce on a one-year deal solidified Philadelphia’s starter at left guard in 2021 second-round pick Landon Dickerson, who showed promise in his rookie season, earning a 70.2 at left guard on 768 snaps. The Eagles also used their second-round pick in this year’s draft at the Nebraska center Cam Jurgensproviding depth behind Kelce without hypothetically having to kick Dickerson back inside to center.
A blockbuster trade for wide receiver AJ Brown and his subsequent four-year, $ 100 million extension further adds to the need to clear cap space wherever they can, and Seumalo stands out as a potential candidate, even after Philadelphia waived guard Nate Herbig earlier this offseason.
WR Darius Slayton, New York Giants
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 dead cap: $ 58,721
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 cap savings: $ 2,540,000
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 dead cap: $ 58,721
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 cap savings: $ 2,540,000
There’s no difference from a salary cap perspective in moving on from Darius Slayton after June 1; this is more about how the 2022 NFL Draft unfolded for the Giants. The team selected Kentucky wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson at No. 43 overall, perhaps putting into question Slayton’s place on the depth chart.
Slayton was highly productive right out of the gate in 2019 after he was drafted in the fifth round, putting up 740 receiving yards and hauling in eight touchdowns as a rookie. That strong start to his career earned him an elevated salary of $ 2.54 million for 2022, but he’s coming off career lows across the board in 2021, including a 53.8 receiving grade and a 15.8% drop percentage on catchable passes, which ranked second-worst among receivers with at least 25 targets in 2021.
The Giants are undergoing a rebuild and have already moved on from important contributors, such as cornerback James Bradberryas new general manager Joe Schoen works to clear the books and turn over a roster that hasn’t had a record above .500 at any point over the past five seasons.
Slayton represents an interesting trade candidate for teams in need of a quality deep threat who can take the top off a defense, and he could bounce back off a down year and regain the form he showed early in his career. Plenty of teams could use a player with his skill set, with the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans seemingly at the top of a long list of potential suitors.
DI Derek Wolfe, Baltimore Ravens
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 dead cap: $ 3,800,000
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 cap savings: $ 0
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 dead cap: $ 1,800,000
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 cap savings: $ 2,000,000
Now entering his age-32 season, Wolfe is still a highly productive player in the field, but a back injury sidelined him for the entire 2022 campaign. The Ravens’ moves this offseason suggest they’re at least preparing for the idea of a roster without Wolfe, bringing back two former interior defenders. The Ravens first signed nose tackle Michael Pierce after his release from the Minnesota Vikingsand they more recently agreed to terms with Brent Urban. Add in Baltimore’s selection of Connecticut nose tackle Travis Jones in the third round of this year’s draft, and the depth chart is quite full of run-stuffers.
Wolfe’s 87.7 run-defense grade from 2016-20 ranked 12th among interior defenders, obviously a near-elite mark, yet still trailed both Pierce and Urban over the span. It’s entirely possible Baltimore keeps him in the fold and has an incredibly strong group at the position, but other teams inquiring about a potential trade for the veteran is foreseeable.
The Denver Broncoswho drafted Wolfe back in 2012, traded interior defender Shelby Harris to the Seattle Seahawks in the Russell Wilson blockbuster and could perhaps look to fortify the depth chart with a reunion. Many teams would benefit from Wolfe’s addition as a 3-to-5 technique who has consistently played at a very high level throughout his career.
RB Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 dead cap: $ 1,000,000
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 cap savings: $ 4,600,000
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 dead cap: $ 1,000,000
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 cap savings: $ 4,600,000
Just one year into Carson’s two-year, $ 10.4 million extension signed in the 2021 offseason, the Seahawks made a few key investments at the running back position heading into the 2022 campaign. Most important, Seattle used the No. 41 overall pick on Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III – that is, once he finally answered his phone.
Carson has earned 70.0-plus grades in every season of his career, is a solid receiver after the catch on shorter passes and provides a tough running style. Over the past five seasons, Carson’s 90.0 rushing grade ranks 13th among running backs with at least 100 carries, and his 0.2 missed tackles forced per attempt is also a top-15 mark.
With Russell Wilson no longer pushing the coaching staff to let him cook, it stands to reason that head coach Pete Carroll will shift back into the very run-heavy offensive approach he prefers, so a deep committee of quality running backs would make a lot of sense. Nevertheless, Seattle also brought back the 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny following his breakout end to the 2021 campaign in which he earned a league-best 91.1 rushing grade over the final five weeks.
Carson could perhaps be the odd man out in the backfield, and maybe he would even prefer to sign elsewhere and potentially have a bigger role in 2022 as he searches for another contract.
EDGE Dee Ford, San Francisco 49ers
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 dead cap: $ 5,829,997
- Post-June 1 cut 2022 cap savings: $ 1,120,000
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 dead cap: $ 5,829,997
- Post-June 1 trade 2022 cap savings: $ 1,120,000
It seems like a foregone conclusion that San Francisco will move on from Dee Ford after he logged just 378 snaps over the past three seasons combined, and the bigger question may be whether he wants to continue playing football at all in 2022. Ford will end up earning roughly $ 47.5 million from the 49ers after signing a five-year, $ 85 million extension with the club following a trade from the Kansas City Chiefswhich comes out to over $ 1.3 million per quarterback pressure generated.
Before injuries derailed his career, Ford was coming off a dominant 2018 campaign in which he earned a 91.0 pass-rush grade with 78 quarterback pressures, 13 sacks and seven forced fumbles. It’s unfortunate we never got to see an attempted repeat performance, but perhaps he’ll make one last push on a new team in 2022.