On Thursday, the Cleveland Browns announced that they have terminated the contracts of DL Randy Starks and TE Jim Dray. I wish I had written my annual "five possible cap casualties" column earlier this week (I was hoping to post it this weekend), because Starks and Dray both would have been on it. They are veteran players who, with all due respect, added very little value in 2015. Both Starks and Dray were in the final years of their contracts.
Starks was set to have a cap figure of $3.625 million in 2016. That included a base salary of $2.5 million, his signing bonus of $625,000, and a roster bonus of $500,000. The Browns will carry dead money of $625,000 (his signing bonus) in 2016 for Starks.
Dray was set to have a cap figure of $2.075 million in 2016. That included a base salary of $1.775 million and his signing bonus of $300,000. The Browns will carry dead money of $300,000 (his signing bonus) in 2016 for Dray.
Combined, Starks and Dray would have accounted for $5.7 million against the cap. Now, they will only account for $925,000 in dead money, a savings of $4.775 million. Factoring in a projected salary cap of $155 million, our estimates now have the Browns with $42.37 million in available cap space.
You might ask, "why are the Browns able to cut Dray and Starks now, but they can't cut QB Johnny Manziel yet?" Although Dray and Starks do carry dead money, they do not have any guarantees on their base salary like Manziel does. The same applies for someone like WR Dwayne Bowe.