15 NFL Veterans Who Could Be Salary Cap Casualties This Offseason

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15 NFL Veterans Who Could Be Salary Cap Casualties This Offseason

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Recently the Atlanta Falcons released cornerback Asante Samuel and his considerable salary from their roster. Samuel wasn’t let go because he couldn’t contribute anymore; he was let go because he couldn’t live up to his salary cap number anymore. He isn’t the first veteran player to be let go because of his contract, and he won’t be the last we’ll see this offseason.

This phenomenon is becoming more and more common in the NFL these days. If you’re an aging player with an ever inflating salary, you better be living up to your cap number or you will find yourself looking for a new team quickly.

It just makes sense for the team. If they can get 80 percent of a player’s production for a quarter of their price, that’s a good deal. Even I know that, and I’m terrible at fractions.

This is the time of the year that teams start to make these kinds of moves. If you’re going to release someone for cap room, you might as well do it before free agency starts. That way if you want to use that money on someone in the open market, or simply just to lock up your younger players, you have plenty of time to make use of your new-found spending cash.

One of the great poets of our generation once said that ‘mo money brings ‘mo problems, and that couldn’t be more true if you’re an NFL veteran.

These 15 veteran players are likely to be cut because of their bloated salaries.

Ben Sullivan is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @bensullivan52, "Like" him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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15. Nate Burleson

Nate Burleson
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Nate Burleson is due to make $5.5 million this year for the Detroit Lions. Considering he only hauled in 39 balls for one touchdown last season, it's unlikely the Lions will keep him at that number.

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14. Marcedes Lewis

Marcedes Lewis
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The Jacksonville Jaguars would save themselves almost $5.5 million against the cap next year if they released tight end Marcedes Lewis. They wouldn't really miss the 25 receptions he gave them last season anyway.

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13. Ahtyba Rubin

Ahtyba Rubin
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Still a solid defensive tackle, despite some injuries, plenty of teams would like to have sixth-year man Ahtyba Rubin in their rotation. It's his current cap number of over $8 million that's the problem.

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12. Antonio Cromartie

Antonio Cromartie
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Antonio Cromartie used to be one of the best cover corners in the league, but when defensive backs get older they can fall off the cliff really fast. Now he's just a step too slow, and the New York Jets would save $9.5 million against the cap if they let him go.

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11. Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu
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Strong safety Troy Polamalu has been in decline for a few years now. He'll be 33 heading into next season and carry a cap number of over $10 million. That's not a good combination.

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10. Josh Morgan

Josh Morgan
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Owner of only 20 receptions in 2013 and a $10 million cap number in 2014, I can't see the Washington Redskins bringing the constantly underachieving Josh Morgan back next year.

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9. Kamerion Wimbley

Kamerion Wimbley
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Now with his third team, eight-year veteran Kamerion Wimbley had only 11 tackles and three sacks last season.

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8. Frank Gore

Frank Gore
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Frank Gore might be one of the most underrated running backs in the history of the league. But in 2013 he posted the lowest yards per carry of his career, and when a running back starts to go downhill it's a steep fall.

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7. Sidney Rice

Sidney Rice
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Sidney Rice might be the poster child for bad free agent contracts. After appearing to be one of the best young receivers in the league, the Seattle Seahawks signed him to a big deal only to see injuries keep him off the field more than he has been on it. Seattle needs to do whatever it can to keep their defense together, and they could save $7.3 million if they cut ties with Rice.

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6. Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez
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I may not know who the starting quarterback for the New York Jets will be next year, but I know it won't be Mark Sanchez.

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5. Miles Austin

Miles Austin
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Miles Austin really only had one great year with the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, injuries and poor play have kept him from living up to expectations. The Cowboys are always underachieving, and I can see them shaking things up by letting him go.

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4. Roman Harper

Roman Harper
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Once the New Orleans Saints drafted Kenny Vaccaro in the first-round last year, the writing was on the wall for veteran safety Roman Harper. Now heading into his ninth season as a pro and clearly the backup, it's time for the Saints to let him go.

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3. Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson
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Chris Johnson's contract has been holding down the Tennessee Titans since they signed him to a six-year, $55 million deal in 2011. You don't build around running backs anymore, and cheap ones are easy to find.

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2. Matt Schaub

Matt Schaub
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Chance are Matt Schaub will get a chance to start somewhere in the league next year, but it won't be with the Houston Texans.

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1. Champ Bailey

Champ Bailey
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No longer a premier corner, Champ Bailey has seen his best days as a pro. If he wants one more year in the league he'll most likely have to take a major pay cut to stay with the Denver Broncos. At least if he does he'll have a decent chance at competing for a ring in that final year.