Plenty of veteran players with recognizable names have been released in recent days. It’s likely that plenty more are coming.
One league source with extensive knowledge of the operation of NFL franchises predicts that the process of cutting players will reach a “crescendo” on Monday, two days before the start of the new league year. Through the process, teams will dump millions in non-guaranteed salaries, avoid millions in bonus payments due early in the league year, free up millions in cap space, and send dozens of older players with recognizable names into the market.
The most recognizable name of the players-to-be-fired-sooner-than-later belongs to Peyton Manning. With the Broncos not even asking Manning to submit to the physical that serves as the rubber stamp for the payment of his fully-guaranteed $19 million salary and with no negotiations underway regarding a potential return at a reduced rate, the Broncos will be cutting Peyton Manning before the guarantee vests on Wednesday, unless he retires before then.
When it happens, casual, least-common denominator fans and media will be shocked. When, after all, has the starting quarterback for the Super Bowl champion been fired only a month after hoisting the Lombardi? Anyone who has been paying attention shouldn’t be surprised. At this point, a surprise would happen only if Peyton Manning isn’t cut.
As teams spend the weekend making one last pass of their rosters, ripping the name off the back of the jersey and asking whether the player’s abilities justify his compensation, it’s possible that some genuine surprises will emerge, with those players either being dumped out of the blue, possibly after being not-so-discreetly shopped for trade value.
However it goes, there will be plenty of firing on Monday and Tuesday, before the annual hiring cycle starts on Wednesday.