As the 2023 free agency period draws nearer (it begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET), teams are beginning to release expensive or underperforming players to open salary cap space before the start of the new league year. Some do it to create flexibility for trades and signings, while others do it out of necessity if they're over the cap.
Here are some of the biggest releases ahead of free agency and how they'll affect each team. All figures courtesy of Over the Cap:
Bucs cut Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate
Tampa Bay has cut two key pieces of its offense the past few years. Leonard Fournette totaled 2,643 yards from scrimmage and 22 touchdowns in three seasons with the Buccaneers, while Cameron Brate has recorded 273 catches for 2,857 yards and 33 touchdowns in nine seasons since signing with the Bucs as an undrafted free agent.
Browns release Jadeveon Clowney and John Johnson III
Adding defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and safety John Johnson III in free agency were the Cleveland Browns' two biggest moves two offseasons ago, and now they have both been released with a post-June 1 designation. Cutting Clowney, whose departure was expected after a turbulent season, will save nothing against the cap, while Johnson will save $9.75 million.
Cowboys cut RB Ezekiel Elliott
Indianapolis Colts cut QB Matt Ryan
The Colts are moving on after one year of Ryan, which will cost them a $12 million guarantee for the 2023 season. Ryan won only four of his 12 starts and threw for 3,057 yards with 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this past year. Indianapolis owns the No. 4 overall pick in next month's NFL Draft.
Baltimore Ravens cut DE Calais Campbell
The Ravens released veteran defensive end Calais Campbell, the team announced Monday. Campbell, 36, played three years in Baltimore where he tallied 11 sacks and 36 quarterback hits. He previously played with the Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars. The move will save the Ravens $7 million in salary cap.
Seattle Seahawks plan to cut DL Shelby Harris
The Seahawks are releasing one of the players they acquired in the Russell Wilson trade. Seattle reportedly plans to cut defensive lineman Shelby Harris after being unable to find a trade partner, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. Harris, who tallied two sacks and 24 combined tackles in 2022, will save the Seahawks about $8.9 million and cost $3.27 million in dead cap.
Leonard Floyd cut by Rams
The Los Angeles Rams reportedly plan to release pass rusher Leonard Floyd, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Floyd, 30, tallied at least nine sacks in each of the past three years in Los Angeles and signed a four-year, $64 million extension in 2021.
Vikings cut WR Adam Thielen
Homestate hero Adam Thielen is on the open market. The Minnesota Vikings cut the two-time Pro Bowl wideout on Friday after nine seasons with the team. Thielen, 32, is from Minnesota and caught 534 receptions for 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns in 135 games.
If designated as a post-June 1 cut, the move will save the Vikings $13.55 million for 2023 but will cost $6.4 million in dead cap. Thielen had a $19.96 million cap hit this upcoming season after he signed a three-year, $44.67 million deal in 2022.
Titans cut another veteran: Center Ben Jones
Tennessee added to its list of released veterans when the Titans cut center Ben Jones, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Jones, 33, played the past seven years with the Titans where he started 108 games. The move will save the Titans $3.7 million in salary cap. It marks the sixth veteran released this offseason.
Za'Darius Smith informs Vikings he wants to be released
Minnesota Pro Bowl edge rusher Za'Darius Smith posted what appears to be a farewell message to Twitter on Thursday. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, he has informed the team that he wants to be released, but the team has no plans to do that. Smith is technically signed through the 2023 season, as he agreed to a three-year deal worth $42 million last March.
Jets will cut WR/PR Braxton Berrios
The New York Jets are moving on from receiver and return specialist Braxton Berrios at the start of the league year, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The two sides reportedly discussed a contract restructuring but couldn't agree — which led to Berrios' release. It saves New York $5 million but will cost them $3.2 million in dead cap.
Cardinals move on from WR Robbie Anderson
The Arizona Cardinals announced Wednesday that Robbie Anderson had been released.
Anderson, acquired in a midseason trade with the Carolina Panthers, had just seven catches for 76 yards in 10 games with the Cardinals. Cutting the 29-year-old Anderson saves the Cardinals $12 million and was a very obvious move as the Cardinals rebuild their roster under a new front office and coaching staff. He was entering the final season of a two-year contract, and the Cardinals will incur no dead money on their salary cap by cutting Anderson.
Jaguars release CB Shaquill Griffin
The Jaguars announced they're releasing Griffin, a 2019 Pro Bowler who was placed on injured reserve this past season after suffering a back injury. The move will save the Jaguars $13 million in cap space.
Miami Dolphins tell CB Byron Jones he'll be cut
Ten days after Jones tweeted about the "regrettable cost" of playing in the NFL, the Dolphins told the veteran cornerback he'll be released, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The move will save Miami $13.6 million as a post-June 1 cut and will cost the team $4.75 million in dead cap. Jones played the past two seasons with the Dolphins after he signed a five-year, $82 million contract in 2020 that made him the highest-paid cornerback at the time.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut starting LT Donovan Smith
Smith played all eight years of his NFL career with the Buccaneers before being cut, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. He started all 124 games he played during his time in Tampa. Cutting Smith saves the Buccaneers $9.95 million but comes with a $7.95 million dead cap hit.
Frank Clark expected to be cut by Kansas City Chiefs
Clark and the Chiefs weren't able to reach common ground on a reworked deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and the expectation is Kansas City will release him.
Tennessee Titans cut pass rusher Bud Dupree
Dupree signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract in 2021. But two seasons later he'll be looking for another team. Releasing Dupree saves the Titans $9.35 million but comes with a dead cap hit of $10.85 million, per Over the Cap. He was owed $17 million in base salary this season, so the decision makes sense for the cut-heavy Titans.
Titans cut OL Taylor Lewan
Lewan was the first of many surprise veteran cuts by the Titans this offseason. The oft-injured former Pro Bowl offensive lineman cleared $14.84 million off Tennessee's books.
Titans cut WR Robert Woods
Woods lasted just one season with the Titans and is back on the market after being released. He saved the team $12.01 million in salary cap with a dead cap hit of $2.59 million.
Titans cut LB Zach Cunningham
Cunningham earned a four-year, $58 million deal in 2020 but saved the Titans $8.92 million with his release. He will cost the team $4.5 million in dead cap in 2023, though.
Titans move on from K Randy Bullock
Bullock wasn't a big cut, but will save Tennessee $2.13 million in 2023.
Minnesota Vikings cut LB Eric Kendricks
Kendricks had played his entire career in Minnesota before the Vikings released him. That move saved the team $9.5 million, but will come with a $1.93 million dead cap hit.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers move on from RB Leonard Fournette
The decision to release Fournette, which he reportedly asked for, saved the Buccaneers around $3.47 million, but the team will incur a dead cap hit of $5 million. He played the past three seasons in Tampa Bay.
Other players who have been cut: