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Salary Cap Watchlist: Jamaal Charles, Carson Palmer, and Arizona’s QB Nightmare


Jamaal Charles recently staged a micro-holdout that quickly resulted in a new contract. The early word on the street1 is that this deflates the dynasty value of Knile Davis. The thought goes something like this: Unless Charles gets injured, he’ll be in Kansas City for a longer period of time, and Davis will remain on the bench.

Not so fast. Here are two more reasons (in addition to the original five) to hold onto (or cheaply acquire) Knile Davis.

1. Jamaal Charles’ Contract

According to Over the Cap:

In essence the contract represents a $5 million raise in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. At the moment we are estimating that neither the 2014 reporting bonus nor roster bonus prorate.

What does that mean? It means the Chiefs can still move on from Charles relatively cheaply next season, and even more cheaply the season after that. Take a look:


If the Chiefs cut Charles next year, it will cost them $1.3 million in dead money, but result in a net savings of $6.7 million against the salary cap. Cut him in 2016, and $6 million in cap space is created, with no dead money.

I don’t think it’s likely he gets cut, barring catastrophic injury or a dramatic decline in ability. The Chiefs, so far, have a decent amount of cap room for 2015; roughly $16 million. But the new contract certainly doesn’t lock the Chiefs in to keeping Charles, either. It’s also important to note that quarterback Alex Smith is a free agent after this season. Re-signing him, or any free agent veteran QB, will cost significant money.

2. Kansas City needs playmakers

Dwayne Bowe is banged up, coming off a bad season, and about to turn 30. After that they’ve got Donnie Avery and maybe Albert Wilson at wide receiver. Travis Kelce could be a great player this year. Or not. He’s already almost 25, coming off a major injury, and is essentially a rookie. To that end, the Chiefs have been experimenting with ways to get Davis on the field at the same time as Charles. I’d still try to acquire Knile Davis.

The Cardinals are Toast

OK, I don’t really know if they’re toast or not. But they have a pretty bad salary cap situation. Something significant about the Cardinals’ roster will change next year. After re-signing Patrick Peterson, here’s what the Cardinals’ cap looks like for next year.


Yep. They’re almost $10 million above the cap for next year. And Carson Palmer is going to be a free agent. How will the Cardinals get under the cap? Cutting Larry Fitzgerald would free up over $9 million in cap space, but would tie up $14 million in dead money2 so he seems relatively safe. Could trading Fitzgerald be a possibility? I suppose a lot of restructurings could be done as well. But it seems fairly likely that the Cardinals will not have a significant veteran QB next year. Current backup Drew Stanton is on the books for about $3.8 million next year. Take a look at the 2015 class of free agent QBs, from Over the Cap.

Name Prior APY 
Alex Smith $9,258,333
Matt Moore $4,000,000
Michael Vick $4,000,000
Matt Hasselbeck $3,625,000
Jake Locker $3,146,501
Blaine Gabbert $3,000,412
Christian Ponder $2,539,675
Mark Sanchez $2,250,000
Shaun Hill $1,750,000
Jason Campbell $1,500,000
Andy Dalton $1,303,550
Tarvaris Jackson $1,250,000
Matt Flynn $1,000,000
Brian Hoyer $982,500
Luke McCown $920,000
Dan Orlovsky $920,000
Colt McCoy $795,000
Curtis Painter $795,000
Joe Webb $795,000
Ryan Mallett $736,957
Tyler Thigpen $730,000
Jordan Palmer $730,000
Josh Johnson $730,000
Trent Edwards $730,000
Caleb Hanie $730,000
Terrelle Pryor $686,517
Jimmy Clausen $645,000
Scott Tolzien $600,000
Ricky Stanzi $600,000
TJ Yates $556,250
Tyrod Taylor $536,327

We already know Smith wants much more than what he’s currently making. I highly doubt Cincinnati let’s Dalton leave, but even if they do, he’ll command a much higher salary on the open market. If Jake Locker plays well, Tennessee will likely re-sign him. Palmer could possibly be re-signed, but he has no reason to do so cheaply. Mike Vick wants to play until he’s 40, so there’s that possibility I guess. The point is, none of the guys that are likely to be available are good QB.

Depending on where Arizona drafts next year, a rookie QB will cost them roughly between $1.5 million (Teddy Bridgewater) and $4 million (Blake Bortles), based on 2014 rookie salaries. That seems like a likely option. But then, if they go that route, will the rookie QB be any good?

Or, they could start always Logan Thomas.


For the record, Thomas was our 12th-ranked rookie QB this year. His best comps are Locker and Josh Freeman. I wouldn’t expect much out of him.

The point in all this? It looks like there’s a significant risk to the Cardinals’ passing game. This puts a damper on the dynasty prospects of Michael Floyd in particular, and to a lesser extent, 800-yard candidate John Brown.


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  1. Twitter.  (back)
  2. Cutting him before the fifth day of the 2015 league year would knock $8 million off that total  (back)

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