In the NFL, contracts are not fully guaranteed, though large portions often are, and cutting big-money players often can have a rather damaging impact on a team's salary cap. But every year there are players who face being let go after the year, if not during, if they don't perform well enough.
Here are some QBs sitting on the hot seat this season.
Alex Smith — Kansas City Chiefs
The chances Smith is around next season may not be great no matter how well he performs but a so-so season might seal the deal since the club went out and spent a lot of draft capital on Patrick Mahomes II. Smith is due $20.6 million next season and can save $17 million in cap space by cutting him. If he has his best season and/or Mahomes struggles to develop, perhaps a new, short-term deal isn't out of the question, but otherwise Smith is playing for a contract on the open market.
Trevor Siemian — Denver Broncos
Siemian may or may not be the starter this season, but either way he's a young QB trying to make his mark. If he starts and flourishes, he'll be one of those QBs that will find a job somewhere for years to come. If he struggles and loses the job to Paxton Lynch, the jury will hold and more doubt about his future will bloom.
Kirk Cousins — Washington Redskins
Cousins isn't getting released, but he's playing for a contract… again. A great year might get the Washington brass to cave, but anything less and we might be discussing a trade — seven months from now.
Cam Newton — Carolina Panthers
Nop, the Panthers aren't going to cut Newton, no matter how he performs. The former MVP is on a different kind of hot seat. Two years ago he has an elite season and his trajectory was all pointed toward superstardom. Last season, Newton struggled, the team struggled and we're not quite sure how good Newton actually is.
Sam Bradford — Minnesota Vikings
Bradford completed 71.6 percent of his passes last season — No. 1 in the NFL — but ranked No. 19 in yards per attempt and is a free agent after the season. Another good season could make Bradford the No. 2 QB in free agency (Cousins), assuming the Detroit Lions get something done with Matthew Stafford, the Saints don't make the mistake letting Brees get to market and the Vikings don't sign Bradford to an extension before the season ends.
Tyrod Taylor — Buffalo Bills
Taylor has two years left on his deal but his 2018 cap number is over $18 million. The Bills could save more than half that by cutting him after 2017, but also could make him a pricey backup if he doesn't perform.
Taylor's hot seat is more about his long-term future than his short-term one thanks to the contract, but Bills fans aren't going to be patient waiting for the QB to play up to his salary, and perhaps the Bills won't, either, having not made the postseason since 1999. They haven't won a playoff game since 1995 when a 35-year-old Jim Kelly still was under center.
Nineteen. Ninety. Five.
Fantasy: Top 150