By: Joe Pepe
With the 2020 regular season in the rearview mirror, we turn our eyes to the 2021 NFL season. The landscape of the NFL will be dramatically different with the free agents and rookies from the draft, changing each team’s rosters. However, there is another piece we must look at that happens every season. Veterans who receive their pink slips and surprisingly let go by their franchise. So who are five players we should keep our eyes on this offseason?
Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s season ended abruptly this year when chasing down an interception when he tore his ACL. Entering Cleveland, Beckham was the superstar piece to a rising team that would allow them to compete for years. The narrative changed when in season one (under Freddie Kitchens), the Cleveland Browns woeful underperformed. Now Kevin Stefanski is the coach, and although Beckham had 319 yards and three touchdowns before the injury, the Browns solidified a playoff spot without him. This upcoming season cutting Beckham would result in zero dollars of dead money for the Browns while saving them over $15 million. Beckham could be hitting the market soon and looking for a new employer within the next couple of months.
The Browns wide receiver room could look immensely different come 2021. With players in the wing such as Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins, Stefanski and the front office in Cleveland could be looking to get younger and move on from another big name receiver. Landry leaving the Browns would save the franchise over $11 million and allow the team to build their defense this offseason.
O.J. Howard season ended at the beginning of the NFL season when he ruptured his Achilles. Howard is one of the more athletic tight ends in the NFL, but he also will save the team six million dollars without causing a dead money cap hit, so expect him to be on the move this offseason. The Buccaneers have to sign back Chris Godwin and possibly Antonio Brown; Howard is not a priority to the team.
Every year since the Super Bowl, this rumor whirls around Lincoln Financial Field. Jeffrey’s dead cap hit would cost the Philadelphia Eagles $11 million this season, making this move highly unlikely for the team. The Eagles are suffering from cap issues and will need to make moves. If they can find a creative way to move on from Jeffrey, expect him in a different team’s jersey next season.
Another tight end that could hit the market resides in Houston. At the moment, the Houston franchise could be trading off their franchise quarterback and looking to retool into a rebuilding era. Fells would be less than a three million dollar cap hit. If Houston moves into full rebuild mode, expect ultimate veterans to move on from Houston.
Our final player was a popular running back just a few years ago. Since then, the Detroit Lions brought in aging star Adrian Peterson and drafted highly-touted D’Andre Swift. With a regimen change in the midst for the Lions. Johnson’s cap hit would cost less than a million dollars for the franchise. For a running back who lost his starting role, who has dealt with injuries, and has a new head coach coming in to run the team, Johnson could be on the outside looking in when it comes to the Lions.
This NFL offseason will have a plethora of players moving from team to team, and with the salary cap lowered next season, you could see more veterans packing their bags as teams try their best to fit within the salary cap restrictions.