Chris Wesseling did a great job breaking down the potential salary cap casualties in the AFC. Now let's take a crack at some of the biggest names that could be let go in the NFC. With the salary cap not expected to rise much this year, there are plenty of teams looking to cut dead weight.
Candidates for release
Unofficial list of free agents
2. Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals quarterback: The Cardinals publicly have said they need to reduce Kolb's deal. He's due more than $11 million and his poor arm strength does not match up well with new coach Bruce Arians' vertical offense. Kolb is due a $2 million bonus on March 19 that serves as a soft deadline for both sides.
6-7. Alex Smith and David Akers, San Francisco 49ers: Akers is an easy cut because he's paid like a top-shelf kicker. Smith is trickier. The 49ers want to get his $7.5 million salary off the books, but they can be patient about a potential trade if they make moves elsewhere. My best guess is that the 49ers will get a late-round pick for Smith and avoid releasing him.
Candidates for restructure
Potential surprise cuts
4. Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers tight end: Halfway through last season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Packers already made their decision to let Finley go. He finished the season strong, but is due almost $8 million in 2012. Finley pegged his chances of returning at 50/50. I'd say it's a little higher than that.
8. Jon Beason, Carolina Panthers linebacker: With $3.75 million of Beason's $5.25 million in pay guaranteed, it would only make sense for the Panthers to cut the linebacker if they don't think he can get healthy. Or if they think he won't react to playing outside linebacker with Luke Kuechly in the middle.