The big stories of the offseason are usually about which players teams are adding — either through free agency or the draft. It's just as important for teams to focus on who they don't want around, though, because a bad contract can take years to get off the books, holding a squad back for seasons to come.
Teams can also be reluctant to cut bait when they've already given someone a hefty contract, but sometimes it's the best course of action when you've got someone underperforming and need to free up cap space.
With that in mind, here are the five most overpaid NFL players that teams need to release this offseason.
5. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
One of the most bizarre Pro Bowl selections in recent memory, Xavier Rhodes struggled immensely in 2019. He allowed completions on 66 of the 81 targets he faced (81.5 percent), surrendering an average of 9.8 yards per target. For context, Ryan Tannehill led all qualifying passers with 9.6 yards per attempt on the season, and no other passer eclipsed even 8.6. Targeting Rhodes was like free money. He's also set to carry the Minnesota Vikings' fifth-largest cap hit in 2020. Releasing him prior to June 1 would free up $8.1 million, and if they choose to wait that number would jump to $10.5 million. Whether the release comes before or after that date, it's a no-brainer move.
4. Olivier Vernon, DE, Cleveland Browns
Speaking of free money, the Cleveland Browns can release Olivier Vernon without incurring any dead money against the cap, freeing up $15.5 million. His 2020 cap hit is set to be the largest on the team unless he's released, but he did little to warrant that in his first year with the Browns. His 3.5 sacks in 2019 were a career-low, and he got to opposing passers for just 11 QB hits. An edge rusher who doesn't get to the quarterback isn't worth much, and he's certainly not worth $15.5 million.
3. Joe Flacco, QB, Denver Broncos
It can be nice to have a veteran QB to mentor a youngster like Drew Lock, but the Denver Broncos could instead surround Lock with talent if they cut ties with Flacco. They'd be best served to wait until June 1, when the dead money from cutting Flacco would fall from $13.6 million to just $3.4 million, and at that point the release would free up just over $20 million in space. Not bad for getting rid of a QB you would hope would be serving as a backup anyway.
2. Trumaine Johnson, CB, New York Jets
Trumaine Johnson did not fare well in coverage in 2019, allowing 8.1 yards per target and a 94.5 QB rating when he was thrown at. Like Flacco, it wouldn't make much sense to release him before June 1, but at that point the move would bring just $4 million in dead money, freeing up $11 million of the $15 million cap hit (third-highest on the team) that he's set to bring in 2020.
1. Sammy Watkins, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Sammy Watkins is set to carry a $21 million cap hit into the 2020 season — beating out Julio Jones by over $500k for the highest cap hit for any wide receiver. It goes without saying, he is not worth elite WR money after averaging fewer than 50 receiving yards per game in 2019. Fortunately for the Kansas City Chiefs, who rank No. 28 in cap space, Watkins' contract is structured in such a way that they can free up $14 million by releasing him — a move that would nearly double their available space. There are talks that Watkins may be willing to re-structure his deal, but if not then the Chiefs need to cut bait, especially while they have Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson waiting in the wings.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.