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Most Surprising Cap Casualties This Offseason: NFL Veterans Released Ahead Of 2024 Free Agency

Buffalo Bills Defense - Fantasy Football DST Rankings, Draft Sleepers

With less than a week left for the 2024 NFL free agency to begin, multiple good players around the league were released by their respective teams. The teams are trying to manage their cap situation, and as a result, they have had to part ways with some of their best players.

The list of players who were released this offseason has surprised many. Multiple players who just got released can make any team around the NFL better and are likely to attract interest in free agency.

Which players were the most surprising cap casualties this offseason? Let's take a look at the top five, along with some other notable players that got released.

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#5. Jonnu Smith - Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons released tight end Jonnu Smith last week. The 28-year-old veteran was coming off the best season of his career, yet the franchise parted ways with him. By releasing Smith, the Falcons saved $6.5 million in cap space and now have $37.4 million in cap space to address their roster needs.

Smith didn't last long on the open market, as he got signed by the Miami Dolphins on a two-year deal. Last season, he had 50 receptions for 582 yards and three touchdowns in 17 games. Playing alongside a better quarterback in Miami will help Smith, and he will add a new dimension to the Dolphins' offense.

More changes will happen in Atlanta, as they will likely land either Kirk Cousins or Justin Fields. Due to this, they needed more flexibility in their cap situation, and although releasing Smith came as a surprise, this move will help the franchise get a good quarterback.

 

#4. Jordan Poyer - Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills released a handful of players recently, including Jordan Poyer, Tre'Davious White, and Nyheim Hines. Last year, Poyer signed a two-year, $12.5 million contract with the franchise, but unfortunately, the Bills released him to create more cap space.

Poyer's release cleared $5.72 million in cap space for the Bills, but despite that, they are still $9 million over the cap. Although the Oregon product will be 33 years old by the time the next season starts, he'll still be a valuable asset for multiple teams around the league.

Poyer brings a wealth of experience with him, and it wouldn't be a surprise if any Super Bowl contender ultimately signs him. Last season, he played 16 games and recorded 67 solo tackles, 34 assisted tackles, and one sack. The star safety played eight seasons in Buffalo before getting released and was a huge part of their leadership group.

 

#3. Xavien Howard - Miami Dolphins

A few weeks ago, it was reported that the Miami Dolphins will release star cornerback Xavien Howard. The 30-year-old player will be a post-June 1 cut and will be eligible to sign with a team in free agency.

Howard, a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, played eight seasons for the Dolphins and made the Pro Bowl four times. Releasing him will give the Dolphins $18.5 million in cap space, but they will not be able to use it before the summer.

Howard played 13 games last season and recorded 36 solo tackles, nine assisted tackles, and an interception. Multiple teams will be interested in signing him in free agency, and it will be interesting to see what the Dolphins do to replace him. They already have Jalen Ramsey on the roster, and possibly, the Dolphins will draft a cornerback to cut costs.

 

#2. Quandre Diggs - Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks released veteran safety Quandre Diggs and saved $11 million against the cap. Diggs, who has been an integral part of the Seahawks defense for the last five seasons, is now a free agent and will be on a new team next season.

Not only did the Seahawks release Diggs, but they also parted ways with Jamal Adams, whose injury-ridden career in Seattle finally came to an end. The NFC West franchise now has $41.6 million in cap space and might look to add younger players to the safety spot to pair with star cornerback duo Devon Witherspoon and Tariq Woolen.

Diggs, a three-time Pro Bowler, played 72 games for the Seahawks in five seasons after getting traded from the Detroit Lions. In those 72 games, he had 231 solo tackles, 114 assisted tackles, one fumble recovery, and 18 interceptions.

 

#1. Justin Simmons - Denver Broncos

The most surprising cap casualty of this offseason was Justin Simmons. The Denver Broncos released the star safety yesterday, and he immediately became one of the best free agents available in the market. The AFC West team released Simmons, freeing up $14.5 million in cap space as they continued to make difficult decisions to address the salary cap quandary Russell Wilson's release had created.

Simmons, a third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, is one of the best players at his position and is a two-time Pro Bowler. He was arguably the best player on the Broncos, and the franchise's decision to release him shocked many.

In eight seasons with the Broncos, Simmons played 108 games in which he had 443 solo tackles, 161 assisted tackles, 4.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries, and 30 interceptions. Simmons will be a top free agent, and Super Bowl contenders will likely pursue him as he is a difference-maker on the field.

 

Other Notable Veterans Who Were Also Released Ahead Of Free Agency

In addition to the players mentioned above, teams from all over the league also released other notable players. While the release of these players might not come as a surprise to many, all of them could be solid contributors to their new team next season. Here are some other good players who were released ahead of free agency:

  1. Russell Wilson - Denver Broncos
  2. Jamal Adams - Seattle Seahawks
  3. Kevin Byard - Philadelphia Eagles 
  4. Hayden Hurst - Carolina Panthers
  5. Marquez Valdes-Scantling - Kansas City Chiefs 
  6. Tre’Davious White - Buffalo Bills
  7. Avonte Maddox - Philadelphia Eagles
  8. J.C. Jackson - New England Patriots

 



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