30 NFL Veterans Who Could Be Released This Offseason

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30 NFL Veterans That Could Be Released During the 2014 Offseason

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For many teams, the 2014 NFL offseason is already in full swing. As the playoffs reach the divisional round this weekend, the majority of teams have been amongst plenty of change already. Head coaches have been let go, front offices have been switched up and there have even been key players re-signed in some cases.

For those teams that haven't endured much change just yet, it is surely to come. 2014 has already been a year where we have seen six head coaches fired and there could be more on the way. More assistants are certainly going to be let go along with more front office changes. But, the most notable changes may not be within the coaching and front office personnel. The more important changes will come once teams begin to evaluate their cap situation for 2014.

This offseason will see every team face some tough decisions when it comes to attempting to get under the cap, or simply saving money. Every franchise has some needs that must be addressed in a big way, but in order to do so there may have to be some cap casualties. There are quite a few veterans that are set to make a decent amount of money this next season, but are not necessarily worth the upcoming paycheck.

Though the playoff teams still in it may not be thinking about the offseason just yet, even they will have to face some tough realities within their rosters. With that said, here are 25 of the biggest names amongst NFL veterans that could be released in the 2014 offseason.

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30. KR/PR Devin Hester

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The Bears will likely pass on retaining Devin Hester, unless the former Pro Bowler takes a significant pay cut. They have some other areas of need, namely on defense, and a household name like Hester may cost too much to bring back.

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29. WR Golden Tate

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The world champion Seahawks have a lot of decisions to make, and one of them is on free-agent-to-be wide receiver Golden Tate. Will Tate end up taking a discount to stay in Seattle?

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28. LB Lamarr Woodley

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Lamarr Woodley is on the second half of his career and is in the midst of a huge contract – 6-year, $61 million. The Steelers must rebuild in a lot of areas, and Woodley could end up being a cap casualty especially due to some questions about his ability to stay on the field.

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27. DE Justin Tuck

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Justin Tuck is a free agent, but the Giants could still wind up not re-signing him and instead releasing him into the free agency pool. They need to spend money elsewhere, first and foremost, and Tuck could be one of those guys they need to sacrifice in order to do so.

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26. S Troy Polamalu

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Another Steeler that could wind up being a cap casualty is safety Troy Polamalu, who has a salary of over $8 million in 2014-2015. Pittsburgh has to spend money in other areas, and the aging veteran may be someone asked to leave.

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25. LB Brad Jones

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Brad Jones just couldn’t stay healthy in 2013. He still has a few years left on his deal, but I don’t think the Green Bay Packers saw enough from him to merit keeping him on the roster, as his only guarantee is going to come in dime packages.

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24. TE John Carlson

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Set to earn $5 million in 2014, John Carlson appears to be in his last days with the Minnesota Vikings. Carlson suffered third concussion of his career in 2013 and looks like he won’t be anywhere near the same guy he used to be.

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23. TE Marcedes Lewis

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Marcedes Lewis’ salary in 2014 will be $6.7 million. For a declining tight end, that is far too much money and I believe the Jacksonville Jaguars agree.

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22. FB Vonta Leach

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Toward the end of the season, Vonta Leach rarely saw the field. He was only in for 12 snaps in the final three games. He’s set to earn $1.75 million in 2014. He will likely be cut, but I’m sure he’ll find work soon thereafter.

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21. QB Christian Ponder

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The Vikings have already reportedly decided to move on from Christian Ponder. The question now is, when will he be cut? It’s only a matter of time.

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20. RB Daniel Thomas

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Daniel Thomas is set to earn $1.1 million in 2014, but if the Miami Dolphins release him the cap hit will only be slightly over $200,000. Lamar Miller seems to have the starting spot down, so the inconsistent Thomas is expendable.

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19. QB Brandon Weeden

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It’s safe to say that the Cleveland Browns will move on from Brandon Weeden. New management in the last year has shown unwillingness to commit to him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him cut before next season.

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18. RB Michael Bush

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The Chicago Bears saw Michael Bush take a huge step back since signing him to be the backup. They brought him in to be their short yardage back, and he seemed to have forgotten how to score from the 1-yard line. That’s not a good sign.

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17. WR Nate Burleson

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Nate Burleson knows that he will have to take a pay cut in order to stay with the Detroit Lions. He is set to earn $5.5 million in 2014.

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16. DE Kamerion Wimbley

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Kamerion Wimbley saw his starting role get taken away in 2013, and his $7.8 million cap number for 2014 will be far too much for the Tennessee Titans to absorb.

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15. WR Santonio Holmes

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The New York Jets can save $8.25 million by parting ways with Santonio Holmes. I don’t see a reason why they wouldn’t make it happen. That seems like quite the deal for New York.

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14. DE Jason Babin

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Jason Babin will earn $6 million in 2014. It’s uncertain whether or not the coaches were impressed enough with him last season to allow his return, but we’ll find out in the coming weeks.

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13. DE Mathias Kiwanuka

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Set to earn $7.05 million in 2014, Mathias Kiwanuka was the lowest graded 4-3 defensive end by Pro Football Focus in 2013 (of those who played 75 percent of the snaps). The New York Giants would be just fine letting him go and saving some dough.

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12. RB Ryan Williams

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Ryan Williams was out for all 16 games of the 2013 campaign, so the emergence of Andre Ellington and the potential of re-signing Rashard Mendenhall make him a potential cap casualty.

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11. QB Matt Schaub

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Two numbers should tell this story pretty blatantly. First, Matt Schaub threw a pick six in four straight games., an NFL record. Second, his 2014 cap number is $14.5 million. Ouch.

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10. S Louis Delmas

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Louis Delmas is set to make $6.5 million in 2014. The Lions aren’t officially committed to him this season, so don’t be surprised if he gets dumped.

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9. RB Jonathan Stewart

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Jonathan Stewart has struggled to stay healthy for the Carolina Panthers, and in 2014 they may just end up cutting their losses with him.

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8. QB Jake Locker

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During the regular season, after Jake Locker went down to injury again, there were rumors that the Titans would move on from him in 2014. While that remains to be seen, watch for Locker’s future with the Titans to be up in the air.

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7. WR Justin Blackmon

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Money aside, Justin Blackmon is a pure headache. I would not be shocked in the least bit if the Jaguars decided to part ways with the continually troubled wideout.

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6. WR Sidney Rice

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In 2011, Sidney Rice signed a 5-year, $41 million deal. Having not lived up to those numbers, the Seattle Seahawks could release him before owing him $8.5 million in 2014.

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5. QB Mark Sanchez

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Mark Sanchez’s cap number for 2014 is a whopping $13.1 million. If the Jets release him, they save over $8 million. I’d say that’s a virtual slam dunk.

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4. RB Chris Johnson

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Chris Johnson has the second-highest cap number for a running back at $10 million. If the Titans release him, they save $6 million along with an underperforming headache.

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3. CB Cortland Finnegan

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Cortland Fillegan was mostly a liability in 2013, rather than a force in the secondary. His $9 million salary in 2014 looks huge in comparison to his recent production on the field.

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2. WR Miles Austin

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Miles Austin’s $8.25 million cap number for 2014 won’t be worth the Dallas Cowboys putting up with continually nagging injuries. They will be just fine without him, due to the emergence of Terence Williams and Cole Beasley.

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1. DE Julius Peppers

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Julius Peppers’ production has tremendously declined over the past two seasons. The Bears are set to pay him $14 million in 2014, and his cap number will be $18 million. If the Bears release him, they will save a whopping $9.82 million. Consider it done.