Arizona Cardinals ($23.2M Cap Space)
Carson Palmer (Retired):
After Carson Palmer’s retirement the Arizona Cardinals are in a precarious situation with no Quarterbacks currently under contract for the 2018 season. They will likely sign a Quarterback in free agency as well as add one in the draft. Kirk Cousins and Case Keenum/Sam Bradford seem like logical targets for the Cardinals if they opt not to spend a high draft pick at Quarterback.
Adrian Peterson (Potential Cap Casualty):
With David Johnson returning from injury, the Cardinals will likely release Adrian Peterson before the 2018 season. His 2018 contract is worth $2.8M and there is no guaranteed money left of his contract. The Cardinals will likely spend an early Day 3 pick on a Running Back to back up David Johnson.
John Brown/Jaron Brown (Both UFAs):
Both John Brown and Jaron Brown are unrestricted free agents leaving the Cardinals’ depth chart thin at Wide Receiver. The Cardinals could bring one of them back depending on the financials, but in any case look for the Cardinals to draft a Wide Receiver on Day 2 or 3 of the draft. I also expect 2017 3rd round pick Chad Williams to be given a bigger role in the 2018 season.
Los Angeles Rams ($56.7M Cap Space)
Sammy Watkins (UFA):
After the Rams chose not to pick up Sammy Watkins 5th year option he is now a free agent. Despite being the first Wide Receiver drafted in the 2014 draft class, one of the best draft classes for the position in over a decade, Spotrac only expects him to get around $5.9M per year, likely due to his injury history. The Rams could still resign him in free agency, but with the emergence of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp I would be surprised if he returned. They also have Josh Reynolds, a 2017 4th round pick from Texas A&M, who wasn’t fantasy relevant in his rookie year, but showed flashes. If the Rams don't resign Watkins, Josh Reynolds could get a permanent role in 3WR sets.
Tavon Austin (Potential Cap Casualty):
Tavon Austin is due $8M this year, and $36M over the next four years. Despite the high salary numbers, Tavon Austin only has $5M of guaranteed money left on his contract; all of which is due in the 2018 season. If the Rams cut him this year they will still have to pay him $5M against the 2018 salary cap, but will save $3M compared to the $8M they would have to pay him. There is almost a 0% chance Austin is on the roster to start the 2019 season with a $9M cap hit and no dead money. With the recent rumblings I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams cut him before 2018, even with only a $3M cap savings, given the depth at the position and the fact that Austin only had 40 offensive touches in 2017 (13 receptions and 27 rushes).
San Francisco 49ers ($69.8M Cap Space)
Carlos Hyde (UFA):
With Carlos Hyde entering unrestricted free agency the 49ers will be looking for a new runner to take his place. The only two rushers on their roster that received more than 15 touches in 2017 are FB Kyle Juszczyk and RB Matt Breida, who was signed as a UDFA in 2017. The 49ers also have Joe Williams, a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft, who missed his rookie year after being placed on IR before the season. Williams is worth keeping an eye on after Shanahan convinced John Lynch to select him in the 4th round despite John Lynch not even having him on his draft board. Williams received mixed reports in training camp, but had impressive college production in his final year including a 332 yard, 4 TD game against UCLA. With how deep the 2018 draft class is at Running Back I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers added a RB in the draft.
Aldrick Robinson (Potential Cap Casualty)
Aldrick Robinson is scheduled to make $2.2M this year, but only $150,000 of it is guaranteed money. Robinson only caught 19 of his 48 targets in 2017 and with the emergence of Trent Taylor the 49ers will likely cut Robinson before the 2018 season.
Garrett Celek (Potential Cap Casualty)
Regardless of if the 49ers release Celek or not, I expect George Kittle to become more of a factor in 2018. The 49ers currently don’t have much depth at Tight End so they may keep Celek around for another year, but he is due $2.9M in 2018 and only has $625,000 in dead money left on his contract. If the 49ers decided to release him they would save a little over $2M in cap space for 2018.
Seattle Seahawks ($14.5M Cap Space)
Eddie Lacy (UFA)/Thomas Rawls (RFA)
Both Lacy and Rawls are set to enter free agency. After his disappointing season the Seahawks will let Lacy walk. Since Rawls is a restricted free agent the Seahawks could place a original round tender on Rawls for roughly $1.9M and have the right to match any contract he is offered by another team. Rawls is more likely to return than Lacy, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Seahawks went in a new direction. The departure of Lacy and Rawls would help boost Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise’s fantasy value. The Seahawks also often take multiple Running Backs in the draft so those are players to keep an eye on.
Paul Richardson (UFA)
Paul Richardson is entering free agency, and although he has made some incredible plays during his tenure in Seattle, he has also been plagued by injury. I think the Seahawks would be open to having him return, but will likely not want to pay his market value in free agency; roughly $6.3M per year as projected by Spotrac. Tyler Lockett is entering the last year of his deal this year too and the Seahawks won’t be able to resign both players longterm. If Richardson leaves it suggests that the Seahawks are thinking about resigning Lockett next year. Additionally, Richardson’s departure would open a spot in 3WR sets which could be filled by Amara Darboh or David Moore, who were selected in the 3rd and 7th rounds respectively of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jimmy Graham/Luke Willson (UFAs)
Both Graham and Willson are about to enter unrestricted free agency. The Seahawks do not have a lot of cap space and with Graham expected to make around $7M a year it is doubtful the Seahawks resign him. Willson could return if he doesn’t get a lot of interest on the open market. He opted not to resign after the 2016 season in favor of testing free agency, but then ended up returning for the 2017 season on a 1-year $1.8M contract. Spotrac projects Willson to get a contract in the range of $3.5M, but if that number is lower the Seahawks may consider resigning him. In either case, look for Nick Vannett, a 2016 3rd round pick, to get a chance to play more snaps in 2018.
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