1. Sheldon Rankins, DT, NY Jets
One of the sneakier 2021 additions who underperformed this season was defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. Rankins was signed to a two-year, $11 million contract last offseason with the hope that he could further bolster the Jets' interior defensive line.
A former first-round pick of the New Orleans Saints, Rankins was expected to help out the interior pass rush. Unfortunately, he proved to be more of a liability than anything,
Rankins finished with just three sacks and seven QB hits despite playing 16 games — the most he had played since his eight-sack 2018 season. His 60.0 PFF pass-rush grade ranked just 69th out of 103 qualified interior defensive linemen.
He wasn't particularly effective as a pass rusher, and his run defense was a massive issue. Rankins' PFF run-defense grade of 34.4 ranked a lowly 133rd out of 142 qualified interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
Rankins' issues in run defense were one of the biggest reasons the Jets' overall run defense struggled this season. It may have flown a little under the radar, but he just wasn't the player he was expected to be in 2021.
Rankins is set to have a cap hit of roughly $6.19 million next season, but the Jets could move on with just $750,000 in dead cap. Releasing him would save the team $5.44 million in cap space — cap space that could be allocated elsewhere.
This contract was always essentially a one-year deal with a team option of sorts. Rankins didn't live up to expectations in 2021 which makes it likely he isn't back in 2022.