Biggest Cap Hits in NFL: Meet the 2023 Cap Hit All-Star Team

Welcome to the 2023 NFL offseason, where teams pull out every trick in the book to minimize the biggest cap hits in the NFL to get under the NFL salary cap. Who are the NFL players with the biggest cap hits in the NFL this offseason? Meet the 2023 Cap Hit All-Star Team.

Biggest Cap Hits in NFL for 2023

Biggest cap hits NFL, 2023 NFL offseason, NFL salary cap, biggest NFL cap hit
(L-R) Joey Bosa, Deshaun Watson, Laremy Tunsil | Michael Owens/Getty Images; Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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QB: Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns, $54.9M

When the Browns gave Deshaun Watson a $230 million guaranteed contract, it was by far the biggest guaranteed deal in league history. The team minimized the cap hit in Year 1, but that cap hit is now historic in Year 2.

The team will likely restructure and knock that down to around $21 million in 2022, but the team will have to pay the piper someday. In the final year(s) of the deal, the cap hit will be enormous no matter what they do now.

RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys, $16.7M

The Cowboys franchise tagged running back Tony Pollard, so now he’s on the books for $10 million next season. And putting nearly $30 million on a team’s NFL salary cap for RBs isn’t a great move.

Dallas can restructure Elliott and save $7.3 million this season (but have to pay it in the future) or cut him, save $4.8 million, and be done with the start back. Either way, Elliott won’t stay as one of the biggest cap hits in the NFL for long.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals, $30.7M

Up until Friday, the wideout with the biggest cap hit in the NFL was the Miami Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill at $31.4 million. However, the Dolphins converted $14.835 million of his 2023 salary and his $10 million roster bonus into signing bonus. The move freed up clearing $18.6 million of cap space.

It also made DeAndre Hopkins the WR cap hit leader this NFL offseason. That may change as well, though, as Hopkins is reportedly on the trading block, and a new team would redo his deal.

TE: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers, $18M

The 49ers can redo the George Kittle deal and save around $7 million, which will double the team’s current existing NFL salary cap space.

When the 49ers do, the interesting part is that the New England Patriots will then have the two TEs with the biggest cap hit in 2023 with Jonnu Smith ($17.2M) and Hunter Henry ($15.5M). They’ll have to do something about that soon, too.

OL: Laremy Tunsil, Houston Texans, $35.2M

Laremy Tunsil was one of the few bright spots for the Texans last season and is a key piece of the franchise moving forward. He is currently in the final year of his deal, so the only way to save money is to cut or extend him.

At 28, the latter is more likely. That said, the Texans still have $40 million in cap room even with Tunsil’s hit, so he could just play out the last year on his contract even at the league-leading number.

DL: Leonard Williams, New York Giants $32.2M

The Giants still have a lot of NFL salary cap space ($18 million), but it is shrinking fast with the new Daniel Jones contract and the Saquon Barkley franchise tag.

It seems as though the most likely option for Williams this NFL offseason is a trade (saving $12M). The Giants could probably support his cap figure or give him an extension to reduce it. However, with the Jones numbers coming down the pike, an extension could put the team in a bad place.

LB: Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers $31M

This is a little bit of a head fake as Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa is as much a defensive lineman as he is a linebacker, but that is how he (and his $31 million NFL salary cap hit) is listed. The Carolina Panthers’ Shaq Thompson is the traditional linebacker with the largest cap hit in 2023.

As for Bosa, a simple restructuring will cut his cap hit in half, so that’s what the Chargers will do this offseason to free up space.

CB: Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles, $26.1M

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay is another player who may not be on this list for long. The team gave him permission to seek a trade, so he is likely on his way out.

A pre-June 1 trade would save the Eagles $4.85 million on this year’s NF salary cap, while a post-June 1 trade would add $16.8M to the team’s 2023 cap.

S: Kevin Byard, Tennessee Titans $19.6M

The Titans are in full reinvention mode after they cut offensive lineman Taylor Lewan, Ben Jones, and pass-rusher Bud Dupree this offseason. Safety Kevin Byard is an interesting case, though.

He seems safe as he enters the final two years of his deal, but restructuring to push money to the future is dicey. He already has a $17.8 million cap hit next season and $6.4 million in dead cap in the two years after his contract expires. After the last round of cuts, the Titans may just want to keep Byard where he is in the 2023 NFL offseason.

K: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens $5.9M

Justin Tucker is quite possibly the greatest kicker in NFL history and, as such, deserves to have the biggest NFL cap hit at the position in 2023. There’s no relief for the Ravens from moving money around within the deal, so that’s likely his number in 2023.

P: Jack Fox, $3.5M

Lions punter Jack Fox signed a big extension last offseason, which is how we got here. The Lions did this deal less than 12 months ago. So, the franchise knew what it was getting into. With that, they are in fine shape with this biggest cap hit by an NFL punter.

LS: Josh Harris, Los Angeles Chargers, $1.3M

There has to be a biggest NFL cap hit at every position, so congratulations to Chargers long snapper Josh Harris for being the man at his position. Cutting him or restructuring the deal wouldn’t do that much, so this is probably still his number when the 2023 NFL offseason ends.