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On the bubble: 25 AFC players who could be cut

Gregg Rosenthal did a great job with his comprehensive list of cap-casualty candidates in the NFC. Now let's take a crack at AFC veterans on the roster bubble.

Although there are more big names in this conference, the Jets, Steelers and Browns are responsible for the majority of the heavy hitters.

Candidates for release

1.*Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos, cornerback:* The potential Hall of Famer's decrease in speed was noticeable in Super Bowl XLVIII when Doug Baldwinzoomed past him for a 37-yard reception. If Bailey returns to Denver, it will have to be at a much lower rate than his current $9 million salary. Don't be surprised if he begins transitioning to safety.

2.*Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets, cornerback:* Cromartie was susceptible to big plays last season and carries a $14.98 million salary-cap charge. A healthy Cromartie would still be the best player in a thin secondary, but he'll have to take a massive pay cut to return.

3.*Santonio Holmes, New York Jets, wide receiver:* Holmes has been a roster-and-locker-room albatross the last three seasons. Fully planning to dump the mercurial receiver, the Jets reportedly have already factored $8.25 million of cap savings into their offseason budget.

4.*LaMarr Woodley, Pittsburgh Steelers, linebacker:* A disappointment since signing a lucrative contract extension three years ago, Woodley is scheduled to count roughly $13.6 million against the salary cap. The Steelers might have to choose between keeping Woodley or re-signing Jason Worilds. The latter played better in 2013. Working for Woodley is the $14 million in dead money that would trigger at his release.

5.*Ike Taylor, Pittsburgh Steelers, cornerback:* Formerly a premier shadow corner, Taylor was picked on badly in the second half of the 2013 season. With a cap charge near $12 million, he's an obvious candidate for the chopping block.

6.*Matt Schaub, Houston Texans, quarterback:* Having lost his job to Case Keenum after a plague of pick sixes, Schaub is no longer in the Texans' plans with a $14 million cap charge for 2014.

7.*Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, quarterback:* Sanchez might make sense as a veteran insurance policy for Geno Smith, but not at a $9 million salary with nearly $4 million more in bonuses. He needs a change of scenery.

8.*D'Qwell Jackson, Cleveland Browns, linebacker:* A better fit in the middle of a 4-3 defense, Jackson isn't a natural for Mike Pettine's multiple scheme. The bigger problem is a cap charge approaching $10 million for an inside linebacker on the wrong side of age 30. Jackson's $4.1 bonus in March will likely spur action. -- The Browns announced Jackson's release Wednesday.

9.*Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns, quarterback:* The good news is that Campbell exceeded expectations in relief of Brandon Weeden and Brian Hoyer. The bad news is that increased playing time triggers an escalator clause that makes him too expensive to keep around as a caddy under the new regime.

10.*Davone Bess, Cleveland Browns, wide receiver:* The Browns are reportedly planning to void Bess' guaranteed $3.14 million salary this season in response to his bizarre January arrest stemming from apparent mental issues. His career might just be over.

11.*Kamerion Wimbley, Tennessee Titans, defensive end:* A bust since signing a five-year, $35 million contract in 2012, Wimbley earns too much money for the situational pass-rusher role he's been relegated to in Nashville.

12.*Philip Wheeler, Miami Dolphins, linebacker:* Wheeler was one of the key purchases in former general manager Jeff Ireland's shopping spree of mediocrity last offseason, but he predictably failed to live up to his salary which is scheduled to be $5 million in 2014.

13.*Jonathan Martin, Miami Dolphins, offensive tackle:* If ever there was a player in need of a fresh start in a new locale, it's Martin. The Dolphins will send out feelers around the league, but any interested teams will likely wait until he's released to make their move. With Stanford alums on their rosters, the Colts and 49ers make sense as landing spots.

14.*Jason Babin, Jacksonville Jaguars, defensive end:* Babin turns 34 in May, is due $6 million and was outplayed by Andre Branch down the stretch last season.

Potential surprise cuts

1.*Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers, safety:* Owner Art Rooney II wants Polamalu to retire as a Steeler, but the two sides will have to find common ground on a new contract. The eight-time Pro Bowler's $8.25 million salary carries a cap charge of nearly $11 million.

2.*Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots, defensive tackle:* The anchor of the Patriots' defense prior to tearing his Achilles tendon in 2013, Wilfork is now an aging run-stuffer coming off major surgery with a cap charge near $12 million. He's a candidate for a Terrell Suggs-style extension entering the final year of his contract.

3, 4, 5 & 6.*Leon Hall, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Rey Maualuga and Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals:* Hall is coming off his second ruptured Achilles. Green-Ellis, Gresham and Maualuga were outplayed by Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert and Vincent Rey, respectively. Working in the quartet's favor is the Bengals' relative largesse under the salary cap.

7. Owen Daniels, Houston Texans, tight end: Injury-prone at age 31, Daniels' $6.25 cap charge is a luxury with Garrett Graham approximating his production as the starter.

8.*Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins, quarterback:* How many backup quarterbacks are the seventh-highest paid player on the team?

9.*Eddie Royal, San Diego Chargers, wide receiver:* Royal's $6 million cap charge is too much for a player who disappeared once Keenan Allen emerged as Philip Rivers' go-to target.

10.*Greg Little, Cleveland Browns, wide receiver:* The drop-prone draft bust appeared to be as good as gone under the previous regime. Perhaps Pettine and Ray Farmer will offer him a new lease on Lake Erie-life.

11.*Vonta Leach, Baltimore Ravens, fullback:* Fullbacks are dinosaurs; the salary cap is a meteor. -- Leach was released Thursday.

Other potential cuts

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