The NFL is entering the so-called dead period of the offseason. With OTAs close to wrapping up and mandatory minicamps taking place in mid-June, the league will be quiet for a month before training camps open across the country.
While the 32 rosters are largely set, there’s still a chance we see some significant movement of star veterans. Looking around the league, there are a select few who make sense as either cut or trade candidates, including some recent Super Bowl champions.
Let’s take a look at 10 big names who could be on the move before the season begins.
Patrick Queen, Ravens, LB
Queen makes a lot of sense when you consider all the factors at play.
Last year, the Ravens traded for All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith and then paid him $100 million on his five-year extension. In the spring, Baltimore declined Queen’s fifth-year option, making him a free agent after the upcoming season. Those two facts alone make it clear that should a team call about Queen, the Ravens would be obliged to listen.
While Baltimore may have soured on Queen, he has talent. In 2022 the former LSU star amassed 117 tackles and five sacks while playing 94% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps.
Gabriel Davis, Bills, WR
Let’s be clear: It’s very unlikely the Bills move on from Davis this summer in the midst of a potential Super Bowl season. However, there’s a case for it.
Davis is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane knows his cap sheet moving forward is stuffed, including nine players next year who have cap hits of at least $10 million. Davis will command good money, making his inclusion going forward no small feat.
Lastly, if the Bills decide to go all-in on DeAndre Hopkins this season, Davis could be expendable for a quality draft pick, which means a cheaper contract down the road.
Joe Mixon, Bengals, RB
After six years in Cincinnati, it could be time for Mixon to move on.
Last year, the veteran back struggled, rushing for only 814 yards over 14 games on 3.9 yards per carry. This offseason, many thought the Bengals might release Mixon, which would have saved $7.3 million. However, as a post–June 1 cut, that number balloons to $10 million with a dead cap figure of $2.75 million.
If coach Zac Taylor likes what he sees from fifth-round rookie back Chase Brown, perhaps the Bengals look to save money and roll over the newfound cap space into next offseason, which could be used to pay a litany of possible upcoming extensions.
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos, WR
For months, there has been talk of the Broncos moving on from one of their veteran receivers. That talk hasn’t calmed down with Denver selecting Marvin Mims of Oklahoma in the second round.
Maybe Denver decides not to make any subtractions. But if the Broncos are going to trade one of their established pass catchers, Jeudy would fetch the biggest return. And, after two years of lacking draft capital after the trade for quarterback Russell Wilson, general manager George Paton could see it as a necessary step.
By trading Jeudy, the Broncos would almost certainly net a top-50 pick while also saving $15.5 million over the next two years.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs, RB
The Chiefs took Edwards-Helaire with the last pick of the 2020 first round, believing he would be a core piece on the offense alongside quarterback Patrick Mahomes, receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. That hasn’t materialized, with Kansas City declining Edwards-Helaire’s fifth-year option this spring.
With one year remaining on his rookie deal, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach would absolutely take any call with an offer, even if it’s a late-round pick with conditions. Should Kansas City field no calls, a release is unlikely as it would save the Chiefs only $895,726 while leaving a dead cap hit of $2.57 million.
In short, expect a preseason showcase.
Chandler Jones, Raiders, DE
After posting double-digit sacks in six of the previous seven seasons, Jones fell off badly in his first campaign with the Raiders. The veteran edge rusher notched only 4.5 sacks over 15 games, and, at age 33, he’s not much use for a team trying to retool.
Due $14.2 million against the cap in 2023, the Raiders could trade Jones and save $10.57 million while opening up snaps for first-round rookie Tyree Wilson. Additionally, Jones would be a worthy trade target for a contender. An acquiring team would owe Jones only $1.16 million this season before having what amounts to a team option of $16 million the following year.
Aaron Donald, Rams, DT
Trading Donald would be the toughest move of general manager Les Snead’s career. One could argue it would also be a smart one.
Donald, 32, is entering the twilight of his career. He currently has two years left on his deal with the Rams, including cap hits of $26 million and $34.1 million before a void year in 2025. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is short on talent and long on needs.
If the Rams trade Donald post–June 1, they save $35.1 million over the upcoming two seasons while also netting much-needed draft capital. On that front, the picks should be excellent considering Donald is the best defensive player of his era, and would cost the acquiring team only $13.5 million and $10 million, respectively.
Jamal Adams, Seahawks, S
Saying Adams has one of the worst contracts from a team standpoint isn’t a tough argument to make.
Adams has played in 13 games over the past two years and has recorded six passes defensed and zero sacks despite essentially playing a linebacker’s role. While Seattle would likely relish moving on while having Quandre Diggs and Julian Love as its starting safety tandem, Adams is due another $45 million in base salary over the next three years, making him a poor trade candidate.
At this point, would general manager John Schneider release Adams this summer and save $8.4 million this year along with $34 million over the remainder of his deal?
Mike Evans, Buccaneers, WR
The Buccaneers are embarking on a significant rebuild and need cap space and draft picks to turn things around in an expedited manner.
With Evans both 30 years old and in the last year of his contract, general manager Jason Licht should be looking to move his star wideout in a trade. Over his nine-year career, Evans has never failed to post 1,000 yards.
With a base salary of $13 million, Evans would be an attractive trade candidate for a contender looking for a perimeter weapon. As for Tampa, it would save $14.5 million to roll over.
Kevin Byard, Titans, S
Back in April, Byard reportedly wanted to be traded without a new deal in place.
In the weeks since, general manager Ran Carthon hasn’t made a move in either direction, leaving Byard’s future up in the air. For the reloading Titans, the 30-year-old safety could be a nice trade piece to acquire draft capital while shaving off future salary.
Should Carthon move Byard, the Titans would recoup $28.2 million over the next two years. However, the star safety won’t come cheap to the team getting him, with base salaries of $13.6 million in 2023 and ’24.