There’s now less than two weeks remaining before the start of the 2021 NFL league year and free agent signing period. With that two-week mark now here, we are beginning to see more and more players cut around the league and that process is expected to continue until March 17 rolls around. Will this year’s cuts be as massive as many are already speculating they will be? It certainly seems that way.
On Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton was a guest on 93.7 The Fan and even he thinks the next few weeks will be a huge bloodbath around the NFL when it comes to the number of players getting cut. He was asked if he thinks the Steelers will have a few contract terminations as well in the next few weeks and his answer wasn’t a bit surprising.
“Hmm, I think, well, Joe Haden, I think because they can’t have him in over 13 million bucks,” Clayton said. “I think Vince Williams could be in trouble. There’s hardly anything else on the offensive line to let go, because [Alejandro] Villanueva is unsigned and [Matt] Feiler’s unsigned and Maurkice Pouncey’s already retired. So, it certainly is not going to affect the defensive line at all. But, no, it’s going to be pretty ugly [around the NFL], but I don’t think there’s going to be too many Steelers because the big thing right now is redoing contracts and freeing up cap room.”
I mentioned cornerback Joe Haden and inside linebacker Vince Williams as plausible Steelers cuts in the next two weeks in an earlier post on Wednesday so it’s not shocking to hear Clayton rattle off their two names during his interview. Outside of those two players and maybe fullback Derek Watt, there really aren’t many Steelers players that are candidates to have their contracts terminated in the next two weeks.
While Clayton points to Haden’s large cap number as the reason why he might be out the door in the next 14 days, he really shouldn’t have gone that angle. After all, Haden’s 2021 cap charge of $15.575 million is that high because the Steelers chose to restructure his contract since signing him to a two-year, $22 million extension back in 2019.
2021 is scheduled to be Haden’s final year of his current contract and he’s scheduled to earn just $7 million this upcoming season. Cutting Haden would result in just $6.34 million in salary cap space being created for the Steelers after roster displacement were to take place. Personally, I will be a bit surprised if Haden is jettisoned in the next two weeks.
Of Haden and Williams, the latter seems to be the more likely one to get cut in the next two weeks. Williams is scheduled to earn $4 million in 2021, the final year of his current contract. Terminating him would result in the Steelers freeing up $3.34 million in salary cap space following roster displacement taking place.
Would Williams accept a pay cut down to the minimum to stay in Pittsburgh one more season? I suppose such a scenario is possible. After all, should Williams wind up being cut in the next two weeks, he would likely be hard pressed to find a team willing to pay him more than $1.5 million for the 2021 season.
As for what Clayton thinks will happen around the rest of the NFL in the next two weeks?
“We’ve already had about 11 or 12 guys that have been cut making more than 10 million,” Clayton said Wednesday. “It is going to be a bloodbath.”