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Five big names who could end up salary-cap casualties

We've reached the math portion of the NFL calendar.

This isn't as sexy as, say, the "Super Bowl portion" of the NFL calendar, but the numbers game is vitally important to all 32 NFL teams. This is the time when front offices size up rosters and decide how to build a team under the constraints of the league's salary cap.

This can be tricky business, and it often forces teams to part ways with impact players for reasons that go beyond performance.

With that said, here are five notable veterans who loom as potential cap casualties. I've included a wholly arbitrary percentage chance the player goes which -- who knows? -- could end up being deadly accurate.

Let's get to it:

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans

The Titans backed up the Brink's truck for Johnson to be CJ2K. Problem is, Johnson isn't that guy anymore. He still has his legs, but Johnson has become indecisive and jittery -- habits that can be picked up by running behind subpar offensive lines. Johnson has become the Rob Deer of NFL running backs: He's willing to lead the league in strikeouts if it gets him a handful of homers.

The Titans are a franchise in transition. They're highly unlikely to pay $8 million to a back who averaged less than four yards per carry last season. A fresh start could work for everyone involved.

Chance he's cut loose: 95 percent

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Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets

Speaking of heroes of 2010, Holmes' ability to make big plays with Mark Sanchez was a major reason the Jets advanced to their second consecutive AFC Championship Game that year. Holmes spun that season into a big contract and has been a problem child ever since. He was a locker room nuisance in 2011 then spent most of the next two seasons in the trainer's room.

The Jets will save $8.25 million by dumping Holmes this spring. They'll probably throw a party in Florham Park when the receiver is finally off the books.

Chance he's cut loose: 99 percent


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Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore Ravens

Suggs looked like a lock for Comeback Player of the Year at the season's midway point, piling up nine sacks and 60 tackles in his first eight games. But he had just one sack and 20 tackles the rest of the way, and Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged last month that Suggs was no lock to return in 2014.

Is that shrewd posturing by the GM or is Suggs actually on the chopping block? What we do know is that Suggs, 31, counts $12.4 million on the books for a cap-strapped team. A game of chicken could soon commence.

Chance he's cut loose: 40 percent

DeMarcus Ware, DE, Dallas Cowboys

Once one of the game's most fearsome pass rushers, Ware's production has slipped as injuries have taken their toll. Ware posed a career-low six sacks and completely disappeared down the stretch during another December flop in Dallas.

The Cowboys are still a better defense with Ware on the edge, but a team edging into salary-cap hell might find it hard to hold on to an aging pass rusher due $12.25 million next season. Ware is not open to a pay cut, but would restructure his current deal, which has two years and $26 million remaining.

Chance he's cut loose: 50 percent

Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears

Like Ware, Peppers was once on the short list of the players quarterbacks feared most. Time has robbed the 34-year-old of his former burst, and he is coming off his worst season since joining the Bears in 2010.

Peppers is scheduled to earn more than $18 million next season, and it's been widely speculated his only chance of staying in Chicago is to take a straight pay cut. Humbling as that may be, Peppers would be lucky to find half that figure on the open market. Graying pass rushers in decline don't typically command big bucks in free agency, but Peppers still might have control of his fate. That's more than you can say about the names above.

Chance he's cut loose: 60 percent

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