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On the bubble: 22 NFC players who could be cut

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The recent releases of big names such as Chris Johnson, DeAngelo Williams, LaRon Landry and Reggie Bush are a reminder that the NFL is entering business season. More veterans will be dumped before the March 10 kickoff to the league year.

Here's our look at NFC players in danger of getting released this offseason:


Strong candidates for release


1, 2 and 3. Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans and Cary Williams, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles can save $8.425 million by releasing Cole. The 32-year-old is still effective, but he shouldn't stand in the way of retaining a younger pass rusher such as Brandon Graham. Ryans, 30, is an important defensive leader, but he's coming off a twice-torn Achilles' tendon. Is that package worth $6.8 million? One-half of a starting cornerback unit that was burned routinely throughout the 2014 season, Williams is scheduled to collect $6.5 million this year. He's not worth half of that. This roster needs an infusion of young legs.

4, 5 and 6. Greg Jennings, Chad Greenway and Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings: Offensive coordinator Norv Turner recently hyped Charles Johnson as "far and away" the best receiver on the roster, which bodes poorly for Jennings, due $8.9 million this year. Well past his Pro Bowl prime, Greenway is no longer worthy of $8.8 million in salary and bonuses. Will the Vikings pay Cassel's $500,000 roster bonus and $4.15 million salary now that Teddy Bridgewater is firmly entrenched as the starter?

7, 8 and 9. Marques Colston, Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, New Orleans Saints: The Saints have the worst salary-cap situation in the league, which will lead to tough decisions on the declining veterans that contributed to a disappointing 2014 season. Evans made the Pro Bowl last season purely on reputation. His $11 million cap number will have to be lowered significantly, as will the $9.7 million and $9.6 million figures of Colston and Grubbs, respectively.

10 and 11. Ahmad Brooks and Steve Johnson, San Francisco 49ers: With Aaron Lynch coming like a freight train last October, the 49ers reportedly dangled Brooks in trade talks. With a $1.2 million roster bonus due, he's a goner. Johnson's $5.5 million salary is out of line for a receiver who couldn't get regular snaps last season.

12: Jake Long, St. Louis Rams tackle: Coming off his second ACL surgery in the last two years, Long is not going to see the $10.5 million that is scheduled to come his way this season. The former No. 1 overall draft pick's body has simply failed him.

13: Dashon Goldson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety: The Bucs temporarily benched Goldson last November, less than two years into a five-year, $41.25 million contract. A liability in coverage at age 30, the hard-hitting safety is no longer worthy of a $7.5 million salary.


Potential surprise cuts


1 and 2. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears: Five weeks into the job, coach John Fox and general manager Ryan Pace have yet to commit to Cutler as the Bears' quarterback. While a trade seems more likely than an outright release, nothing would surprise us at this point. Marshall's $7.5 million salary becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the roster by the third day of the league year. He turns 31 next month and is coming off a disappointing season. That's not as much of an issue as behavior that reportedly rankled teammates and coaches last year.

3. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings running back: Peterson believes he was hung out to dry by some members of the Vikings organization -- as well as the general sentiment in Minnesota -- last season. Is the front office going to shell out $15.4 million against the cap for a scorned player who wants to sever ties?

4 and 5. Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers: This would qualify as a stunner. General manager Trent Baalke has stated the salaries for his two All-Pro linebackers are "not as daunting as you might think." Willis is nearing the decline phase, though, while Bowman's knee remains a question mark after missing the entire 2014 season. How will the 49ers create playing time for Chris Borland, who turned enough heads in the second half of the season to compete for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors?

6. Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins: Garcon was turned into an expensive blocker in Jay Gruden's scheme after excelling as the focal point in Kyle Shanahan's offense the year before. We don't expect him to be cut, but $9.7 million is steep cap number for a second fiddle.

7. Michael Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end: It seems crazy to ditch Johnson one year into a five-year, $43.75 million pact, but that hasn't stifled speculation. Johnson has totaled just 7.5 sacks over the last two years after recording 11.5 in a breakout 2012 season. The Bucs owe him an extra $7 million in guarantees if he's still on the roster by the third day of the league year.

8. Brandon Mebane, Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle: Mebane is due $5.5 million coming off hamstring surgery. Although he stuffed the run well in 2013, the Seahawks played their best defense of the 2014 season with Mebane on injured reserve.

9. Junior Galette, New Orleans Saints outside linebacker: Galette has a fully guaranteed $12.5 million roster bonus due next month, but coach Sean Payton is reportedly looking to dump his top pass rusher on the heels of a January arrest for domestic violence. The contract is working in Galette's favor even if the organization is livid over his arrest.

Other potential cuts


Arizona Cardinals: LB Matt Shaughnessy, TE John Carlson

Dallas Cowboys: OG Mackenzy Bernadeau

Detroit Lions: LB Stephen Tulloch

New Orleans Saints: LB David Hawthorne

New York Giants: LB Jon Beason

Seattle Seahawks: TE Zach Miller

St. Louis Rams: DE Kendall Langford, C Scott Wells

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: P Michael Koenen

Washington Redskins: OG Chris Chester, CB Tracy Porter

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