Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comThis week the Atlanta Falcons released CB Asante Samuel and OLB Stephen Nicholas, marking the start of the NFL release period, in which many players with looming cap numbers get cut prior to the free agency signing period. Sportrac also provided their list of 30 names of potential cap casualties recently.
Here’s some big names of players that might or might not have any impact on the Jets.
DB Champ Bailey, Broncos: Bailey’s contract has him slated to earn $10 million this year and there is no way that the Broncos will pay that freight. Bailey just stated this week that he would be open to becoming a safety to continue to play in the NFL. At this point that might be the best solution for the league’s former shutdown corner. Jets chances of adding: Bailey has yet to win a Super Bowl, so if he doesn’t come back to the Broncos on a minimum deal he will probably be shopping around the league for a team that will give them a chance at the Lombardi trophy.
WR Nate Burleson, Lions: Detroit is going to need to make some large changes to get their cap situation in line and they could stand to gain $5.5 million by cutting the popular and productive Burleson. Burleson has said that he would like to return in 2014 but he might get more on the open market should be be cut.
Jets chances of adding: The Jets badly need to add receivers who can provide at least 40 to 60 receptions a year and who can help to make getting open easier for everyone. Burleson is now 32 years old and his statistics have been in decline for two years in addition to his inability to stay healthy. A player like him might add some production, but can’t be relied on to be a frontline 16 game starter.
QB Jason Campbell, Browns: The Browns are looking for their long-term quarterback and with a new coach in town they might want to move past the Jason Campbell era, a move which would save the Browns around $3 million in cap space.
Jets chances of adding: The Jets were said to be interested in Campbell last offseason. Would they be interested in adding a veteran starter with more recent starting experience than David Garrard? It seems possible, but unlikely.
CB Cortland Finnegan, Rams: Finnegan is due to make $10 million in 2014 and he is not the player he once was, though he was formerly regarded as one of the best coverage corners in the league.
Jets chances of adding: Other than drafting players, the Jets tend to add cornerbacks who are young castoffs from other teams (who were castoff for scheme fit issues) or through the undrafted free agency process. Based on his recent play, Finnegan doesn’t likely fit the profile for how the Jets like to build their cornerback battery.
RB Chris Johnson, Titans: Johnson is almost assuredly going to be released from the Titans now that he is on a new coaching staff and is not able to provide the level of production he did four years ago. Johnson is nowhere near the player he once was, but his burst and ability to quickly accelerate can still be found.
Jets chances of adding: The Jets need a dynamic running back who can catch the ball and mix up what Chris Ivory brings to the team.
QB Kevin Kolb, Bills: EJ Manuel has cemented his starting spot on this roster and unfortunately, Kevin Kolb can’t seem to stay healthy along with a $1 million roster bonus due shortly and a potential $3.1 million cap savings.
Jets chances of adding: the Jets were said to be interested in KK last year and they still are looking for options at the back up quarterback position this year. problem of course with Kolb is that just like David Garrard health seems to be a major concern for his readiness even as a backup.
DE/OLB Julius Peppers, Bears: Peppers is now 34 and is played his least productive football in 2013. That coupled with a massive $18.2 million cap figure next season will force the Bears to get Peppers to the negotiating table or off their ledger. The Bears might slow-play the situation to allow Peppers to be designated a June 1 cut (dividing the $8 cap hit over two seasons) but it will depend on when they want that $10 million available to them for 2014 signings.
Jets chances of adding: The Jets did this before with Jason Taylor, could they again? Coming off an 8-8 season might not prove much of a draw for Peppers who might look to latch on with a team that is closer to contention.
S Troy Polamalu, Steelers: The rumors are that the Steelers will start tearing down their team and cutting Troy Polamalu could save the Steelers $8.25 million. In 2013 Polamalu played all 16 games last season and looked dominant and as aggressive as ever. Polamalu might be the heart-and-soul of the Steelers defense but Pittsburgh might not be able to keep him.
Jets chances of adding: The Jets did add Ed Reed in 2013… could this be a possibility too? The Steelers could figure out a way to keep their safety, but the Jets need to get younger and better in coverage at the safety this offseason.
WR Sidney Rice, Seahawks: Rice is rehabbing from a torn ACL this winter and with more than $7 million available to the defending champs by cutting Rice, it seems likely that the Seahawks will be moving on.
Jets chances of adding: Adding a player like Rice seems a risk for a team with enough of projected cap space to sign a healthier player. This week there were reports that Rice is having an exemplary comeback from his tear. Even so it seems unlikely that the Jets would add Rice quickly.
OLB DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys: The Cowboys and Ware are going to be getting into a staring contest rather soon. Where has said he is not open to taking a pay cut and the Cowboys badly need to shed some room for their salary cap in 2014.
Jets chances of adding: Ware played for Rob Ryan, while Rex’s twin was the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys. Ware has publicly stated that he thought Rob was “one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for” so it would be unreasonable to see him try and reunite with one of the sons of Buddy. We’re sure that Rob would reciprocally give Ware a thumbs up on his potential.