05-24-2005, 11:46 AM
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Possible June 1st cuts
Lining up likely victims as June 1 cap-cut day approaches
May 23, 2005
By Clark Judge
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
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A week ago the Arizona Cardinals couldn't wait to cut veteran tackle L.J. Shelton. They released him instead of holding off two weeks to defray the cap cost, ready and willing to absorb the impact of a $3.3 million cap hit now.
Lance Schulters received a bonus in March, but that doesn't mean the Titans will keep him. (Getty Images)
I tell that story because it illustrates how desperate clubs are to dump veterans after June 1.
Sure, there are a handful of names who make it to the help wanted ads after June 1, but there aren't nearly as many as you might expect -- and the explanation is there in the Cardinals' release of Shelton. Few teams are looking to erase big salaries for immediate cap relief.
Yes, Tennessee is expected to cut safety Lance Schulters. Yes, Kansas City will release wide receiver Johnnie Morton, if he doesn't agree to a restructured contract. And, yes, offensive lineman -- or defensive lineman -- Kyle Turley is headed for the exit ramp in St. Louis.
But the list is short, and it's short because most of the dirty work has been done. A recent study of NFL teams revealed that nearly three-fourths of the clubs have at least $1.6 million in cap room, which means don't look for any unexpected bombs.
"I think in past years the anticipation of June 1 is always greater than the actual players who become available," said Carolina GM Marty Hurney. "Every year teams are getting better at managing the cap."
This year may be the best example. Nevertheless, there will be movement, and here are some of the players expected to be doing the moving:
Johnnie Morton, WR, Kansas City: Three years ago he was one of the team's biggest free-agent acquisitions. Now, Morton is told to stay away from offseason practice, with the club poised to cut the guy if he doesn't restructure a contract set to pay him $3 million this season. So far, Morton isn't biting. Morton won't have trouble catching on elsewhere, but he will have trouble making big money. The guy simply drops too many passes in critical situations, never producing more than 55 receptions in one year for the Chiefs.
Lance Schulters, S, Tennessee: When the Titans paid him a $275,000 roster bonus in March it seemed Schulters was set for another season. But be careful: This is the same club that last year paid Eddie George a $1 million bonus in the spring before letting him go in the summer. The club believed George was too expensive to keep, and it looks at Schulters the same way. The guy's due to pull down $2.75 million and has a $4.2 million cap figure, yet he lost his starting job to Lamont Thompson. Schulters indicated he's willing to renegotiate, but only to a point. Then there is this: He was held out of the team's recent minicamp practices because of his uncertain future. "He's gone," said an NFC general manager.
Kyle Turley, OT, St. Louis: I don't know where to start here. I guess we'll go back to last season when Turley, out for the season with a back injury, confronted coach Mike Martz at the team's headquarters and allegedly threatened him. That wasn't a good move. Then Turley went on national radio a month later and said getting along with Martz "is not too important to me." Now this: He's reportedly down to 245-250 pounds and interested in playing defensive line. The Rams are not interested, and I'm not sure who else is. "If he's going to play," said one scout, "it will be as a tackle, which means he'll have to put the weight on." We'll see. In the meantime, the Rams drafted tackle Richie Incognito with a third-round pick, a sure sign Turley is gone.
Bobby Taylor, CB, Seattle: When he left Philadelphia a year ago he was supposed to make an impact with the Seahawks. He didn't. In fact he didn't even start, serving as a backup before bowing out after nine games. Now the Seahawks are up against the cap and looking for help, and here's a place to start. First, the club acquired free-agent cornerbacks Andre Dyson and Kelly Herndon to offset the loss of starter Ken Lucas; second, it can gain $1.5 million in cap relief with Taylor's departure. Taylor can still help someone, but if he can't start with the defense-starved Seahawks -- especially after the club shelled out millions to acquire him -- what does that tell you?
Todd Steussie, OT, Tampa Bay: The veteran tackle last week thanked the Bucs' organization for its support while he cooperates with federal and NFL investigations into steroid use in pro football. Now let's see if the club stands behind Steussie for the coming season. He's 34, lost his starting right tackle job last October and stands to make $2 million this season. Steussie knows he could be a June 1 cap casualty, and general manager Bruce Allen hasn't ruled out a release -- emphasizing that "we have to clear room to sign our rookies." I know where they can find $2 million in room, and so do they.
Chad Morton, KR, Washington: It's beginning to look like a June swoon for the Morton family, with Chad joining brother Johnnie on the endangered list. The Redskins raided the New York Jets for the restricted free agent two years ago, paying him a $2.5 million signing bonus, but they ran out of patience after Morton tore knee ligaments last season. He wasn't having a good season anyway, and while he doesn't stand to earn that much ($540,000) this year, the club seems to have decided to move on without him.
Mike Barrow, LB, Washington: The club may not whack him immediately. In fact, it could wait until July. But make no mistake: It will release Barrow. Two telltale signals: First, the Redskins' acquisition of linebacker Warrick Holdman, whom they're moving inside; second, the club needs cap room and can free $1.74 million in space with Barrow's release. Now add this: The Redskins could try to renegotiate Barrow's contract, one that counts $2.15 million against this year's cap, but haven't. Call it circumstantial evidence, but it all points in the same direction, and for Barrow that's out of town.
Anyone think any of these guys can help us? Chad Morton maybe? Sorry, but I am tired of the beerman. He isn't reckless enough as a returner for me any more. All that scuttling out of bounds and stuff? Don't mean to offend any beerman fans, but his story is over for me.