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NFL Rumors: Latest on 20 Big-Name Players Likely to Be Cut During Offseason

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Chris Johnson Headlines a Group of 20 Big-Name NFL Players Who Could Be Cut

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Now that the 2013-2014 NFL season has come to a resounding close with the Seattle Seahawks establishing them as a clear world champion, the offseason has officially begun. For every team, there are many decisions needing to be made. The coaching wave has bowled over, finally, but now we turn our attention to the most intriguing part of the coming months -- cap casualties.

Don't get me wrong, I love the free agency period just as much as anyone else. But, the most interesting portion of the offseason, to me, is looking at the teams' financial needs in comparison to certain players' performance on the field. There are plenty of guys who are in danger of being released from their current team in order for the organization to move forward and better themselves financially.

If you're a team like the Dallas Cowboys, you're entering an offseason in which you are over the cap by more than $20 million. As one NFL executive called it, the Cowboys' current cap state is "a train wreck." Dallas, though, is just one of many teams with difficult decisions to make. Who will they wind up breaking ties with in order to get into a more stable position, money-wise? The answer to that question may shock you.

The Cowboys are one of several teams that may have to let go of a household name or two. The following list includes a couple of notable players from Dallas, but overall gives you an idea of the top 20 big-name players who could be cut in the coming days. While it's not clear, just yet, where all of the following "bubble" players may wind up, it is quite certain that the organizations are mulling the future of these guys with serious intent.

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20. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs

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Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe will strike the team with a $12 million cap hit if retained. Looking at the Chiefs’ offense a season ago, I’m sure I can speak on behalf of most fans and say that they wouldn’t miss him too dearly. His production fell off, and Alex Smith spreads the ball around so much that his giant contract is not worth it.

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19. Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions

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After playing almost a good chunk of the season without wide receiver Nate Burleson, the Detroit Lions could let him go and save $5.5 million. Burleson is getting older, and the Lions’ run-and-gun style of offense needs a couple more potent pieces in 2014 – Burleson simply doesn’t fit the mold.

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18. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears

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Michael Bush will hold a salary of nearly $4 million in 2014. The backup running back has been on a downward slope, and upgrading the position is a big priority for the Chicago Bears. Bush has been disappointing, especially in goal-line formations. Expect him to be released.

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17. Jason Campbell, Cleveland Browns

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I think it’s safe to say that the Cleveland Browns will be fine moving on from Jason Campbell, seeing as he’s not their long-term solution. They could save nearly $4 million by letting him go, which is very likely to happen.

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16. Chris Clemons, Seattle Seahawks

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The Seahawks will need to make a few cuts in order to bring back the guys they have atop their priority list, as well as extend some important pieces like safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman. Chris Clemons’ cap number in 2014 is $9.7 million, which looks awfully tempting to cut ties with.

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15. Kevin Kolb, Buffalo Bills

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E.J. Manuel is the future of the Buffalo Bills, thus Kevin Kolb’s NFL career is likely one more step toward being over. Kolb has had issues with concussions and will count $3.1 million against the cap in 2014. He’s without a doubt going to be cut.

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14. Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks

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Sidney Rice is expected to be another cap casualty of the Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. His health is a concern, and the fact that there are more than enough capable bodies that Seattle could enter into next season with, he and his $9.7 million cap number won’t be missed too much.

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13. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys

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Miles Austin isn’t exactly “needed” much longer in the Cowboys’ offense. Releasing him would get rid of his $5.5 million cap number, but that would turn to dead money. Still, the Cowboys could wind up using some of that to sign draft picks. ESPN has reported the Cowboys will likely wind up moving on from Austin.

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12. Carlos Rogers, San Francisco 49ers

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The San Francisco 49ers’ cap will take an $8.1 million hit from cornerback Carlos Rogers if they choose to keep him. He is on the decline, and the 49ers have much more important issues to take care of, contract-wise.

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11. Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams

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The production coming from Cortland Finnegan has been less than desirable for the St. Louis Rams. His $10 million cap number in 2014 is looking more and more gruesome as the days go by. I don’t anticipate Finnegan being a Ram at the beginning of next year.

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10. Champ Bailey, Denver Broncos

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Champ Bailey said that he would like to continue playing, but his time with the Denver Broncos may be coming to a close. He will count $10 million against the cap in 2014, a number that the Broncos likely aren’t willing to live with.

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9. Antrel Rolle, New York Giants

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The New York Giants would save $7.25 million and a whole lot of chatter by releasing safety Antrel Rolle. The 31-year old safety won’t likely make it past this offseason in the big apple, so plan on seeing him in a different uniform come the start of next year.

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8. Will Smith, New Orleans Saints

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After missing an entire season due to injury, Will Smith is set to hit the New Orleans Saints in a big way -- $14 million against the cap to be exact. The team could find a couple more players to add to an already-elite defense for that amount of money. Smith will not be back, that’s almost a guarantee.

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7. Antonio Cromartie, New York Jets

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Antonio Cromartie will hit the New York Jets’ cap with a $15 million blow if he is retained, and judging by his antics and ability to make headlines without blinking an eye, I wouldn’t be surprised if he is gone in the near future.

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6. Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens

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If Terrell Suggs is not extended this offseason by the Baltimore Ravens, he will count $12 million against their cap for next season. An extension would be the best case scenario for the 31-year old pass rusher, but don’t count out the possibility of the Ravens moving on.

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5. Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers

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This one seems crazy, but, the Pittsburgh Steelers could save over $8 million by releasing veteran safety Troy Polamalu. The aging defensive unit has been taken apart piece by piece, and Polamalu may be the nail in the coffin for a group that was once dominant.

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4. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

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Sam Bradford’s salary cap number in 2014 is a whopping $17.6 million. For a team that hasn’t gotten enough out of their number one draft pick in 2010, that is far too much to pay. Expect the Rams to move on.

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3. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans

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Chris Johnson is as good as gone, and most folks know that by now. The relationship between he and the Tennessee Titans isn’t getting much better, and they would rather save $6 million than put up with another underperforming season from a one hit wonder type of back.

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2. DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys

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Over the next two seasons, DeMarcus Ware will hit the Cowboys with a $26 million sucker punch – that doesn’t sound too appealing for a team already in cap hell. Do not be surprised to see Ware cut as the Cowboys try and get back on track. Remember, they were one of the worst defenses in the entire league last year, and even having Ware healthy they would still need plenty of help.

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1. Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears

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Probably the ugliest cap hit in all of football this next year is the $18.2 million that Julius Peppers will smack the Bears with. His production has tailed off drastically, and with the Bears’ defense in the shape it’s currently in, his time has come to an end in the windy city.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter @ryanmheckman or add him to your network on Google.