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2024 NFL free agency: Ranking top 10 cap casualties, potential landing spots for Xavien Howard, other vets

Sports2024 NFL free agency: Ranking top 10 cap casualties, potential landing spots for Xavien Howard, other vets


The already-robust NFL free agency pool has received a pretty big boost over the last few weeks in the form of cap casualties. You could define cap casualty as a player a franchise is forced to move on from due to financial reasons. If it were not for the money issues, the players would likely still be on a roster.

Even though the salary cap received the largest year-to-year increase in free agency history, we’ve seen quite a few cap casualties this offseason, and some can even be considered top free agents. Who are the best of the best among the cap casualties? And where could they land? Let’s take a look.

The Dolphins cleared $9.8 million by parting ways with one of their starting linebackers. In 13 games played last season, Baker recorded 78 combined tackles, 1.5 sacks, three passes defensed and a career-high two interceptions. Maybe linebacker isn’t a premier position in today’s NFL, but Baker is one of just seven players since 1982 to record 500 tackles and 20 sacks in his first five NFL seasons. 

Landing spots: Dolphins, Steelers, Eagles

Jackson is a former First Team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler who turned 30 this past December. Last season, he recorded 37 combined tackles, five passes defensed and one interception in 12 games played. 

Jackson has only played for the Bears over the course of his NFL career. He has allowed 10 touchdowns in coverage over the last three seasons, to go along with five interceptions. Opposing quarterbacks have had a 69.6 passer rating targeting him. Keep in mind that Jackson is just one of the many veteran safeties looking for a new deal. 

Landing spots: Rams, Cowboys, Packers

The Seahawks released both of their former Pro Bowl safeties in Diggs and Jamal Adams, saving Seattle tens of millions of dollars. Diggs has been named to the Pro Bowl in three out of the last four years, and registered a career-high 95 combined tackles, five passes defensed and one interception in 2023. Diggs makes this list over Adams because he’s been durable. He hasn’t missed a game due to injury since 2019, although he is older at 31. 

Landing spots: Bears, Packers, Steelers

The two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Pro Bowler is again a free agent, although he turns 32 in November. Barrett led the league with 19.5 sacks back in 2019, and registered 10 sacks in 2021. Last season, coming off a torn Achilles, he recorded 52 combined tackles, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception. 

Landing spots: Ravens, Eagles, Broncos

One of the more underrated cap casualties so far. Williams was set to enter the final season of a three-year, $30 million contract with the Jags. He didn’t have any guaranteed money left on his deal, and his release saves Jacksonville $11.5 million against the cap. While Williams turns 31 this month, he tied for the team lead in interceptions this past season with four. He will absolutely have a market. 

Landing spots: Commanders, Rams, Vikings

Poyer will be searching for a new NFL home for the first time since 2017, and while he turns 33 in April, he should see interest from contenders. In 2023, he recorded 100 combined tackles, one sack and four passes defensed. In 2021, he was named a First Team All-Pro after tying a career high with five interceptions, and was named to his first Pro Bowl the following year in 2022. A defensive leader on the back end who can still play. 

Landing spots: 49ers, Cowboys, Lions

A Pro Bowl center, Morse is another former Bill who should receive plenty of interest now that he’s a free agent. He started his career with the Chiefs in 2015 as a second-round pick out of Missouri, but has played in Buffalo for the past five seasons. Morse had a 64.1 overall PFF grade in 2023, and a 72.8 pass blocking grade. There are a couple of center-needy teams in the AFC South to keep an eye on. 

Landing spots: Titans, Jaguars, Steelers

White has been a star cornerback for several years now, but he suffered a torn ACL in 2021 and a torn Achilles that ended his 2023 campaign. Those injuries are likely a reason why White is now searching for a new team for the first time in his career, but the two-time Pro Bowler and 2019 interceptions co-leader will still be an intriguing player to watch in free agency. 

Landing spots: Lions, Jaguars, Colts

There are plenty of star safeties looking for new deals this offseason, but Simmons is one of the best. The four-time All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler was released by Denver this week after eight incredible seasons as a Bronco. At 30 years old, Simmons again was named a Second Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2023 after recording 70 combined tackles, one sack, eight passes defensed and three interceptions. 

Simmons was set to count for $18.25 million against the cap, but will instead now carry just a $3.75 million dead cap hit, and the Broncos will save $14.5 million.

Landing spots: Panthers, Packers, Eagles

Cornerback is a premier position in today’s NFL, and Howard has been one of the best for years now. He turns 31 in July, but is a four-time Pro Bowler and led the league in interceptions twice — including a 10-interception campaign in 2020. Howard’s streak of three straight Pro Bowls was snapped this past season, but he still recorded 12 passes defensed and one interception in 13 games played. 

Landing spots: Texans, Lions, Commanders





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