NFL salary cap casualties: DeMarcus Ware, Chris Johnson among possible cuts

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Here's a team-by-team look at the potential salary-driven cuts each team could make in the weeks to come.

Breathing room with the salary cap is a premium in the NFL and every year teams have to purge themselves of the contracts of veterans that don't match their level of play. Players with large contracts are not safe, with teams trying to do what's necessary to make room for future moves.

Among the potential "cap casualties" this year are Chris Johnson, Julius Peppers and DeMarcus Ware.

Here's a look at a move each team could make to clear some space during the 2014 offseason:

Arizona Cardinals - Daryn Colledge

The seventh overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft, guard Jonathan Cooper, still hasn't seen the field after breaking his leg during the preseason. When he returns in 2014, it will make it easy for the Cardinals to part ways with Colledge, who is scheduled to count more than $7 million against the cap next season. By releasing Colledge in June, the Cardinals will free up $4.8 million of that space.

Atlanta Falcons - Thomas DeCoud

The Falcons' defense had struggled in 2013 and DeCoud was part of the problem, arguably having the worst season of his NFL career. While he doesn't have a huge cap number, Atlanta could save over $3 million in each of the next three years by parting ways with the defensive back.

Baltimore Ravens - Jameel McClain

Re-signing Terrell Suggs actually saved money for Baltimore, but the team could continue those efforts by parting ways with a different veteran linebacker. McClain wasn't very productive for the Ravens after returning from a spinal cord injury, and they could save $3.2 million by parting ways with him.

Buffalo Bills - Kevin Kolb

There's a great chance that Kolb's career in the NFL is over, which is one of several reasons why the release of the quarterback is a seemingly foregone conclusion for the Bills. With E.J. Manuel at the helm, Buffalo can save $3.1 million by releasing Kolb.

Carolina Panthers - Charles Godfrey

When Godfrey went down with an Achilles injury early in the year, Mike Mitchell stepped into his role and played very well. While David Newton of ESPN says the Panthers like Godfrey and would like to keep him around, it's not hard to see why they might elect to cut him in June and save $4.1 million in cap space, especially when they already have a viable option to replace him on the roster.

Chicago Bears - Julius Peppers

Possibly the biggest name on the list of potential cap casualties, Peppers is due to make over $18 million during the 2014 season. That's a number that Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune says there is "no way" the Bears pay, which means Peppers will have to take a pay cut if he wishes to stay with the Bears. If not, the eight-time Pro Bowl pass rusher will hit the open market.

Cincinnati Bengals - Robert Geathers

SB Nation's Bengals blog Cincy Jungle has Geathers highlighted as a potential cap casualty, although that would be a tough loss with the impending departure of defensive end Michael Johnson. Still, Geathers has been injured often and the team can avoid a $2.7 million cap hit by releasing the veteran.

Cleveland Browns - D'Qwell Jackson

The Browns are absolutely loaded with cap space and don't have any glaring contracts that need to be jettisoned. Still, Jackson is due to count more than $9 million against the cap in each of the next three seasons and the Browns could free up more than $5 million in additional space by parting ways with the linebacker.

Dallas Cowboys -  DeMarcus Ware

Ware has racked up 117 sacks in nine seasons and has arguably been the best player on the Cowboys for the better part of a decade. However, the Cowboys are in bad shape when it comes to the salary cap and the fastest way to cut the deficit would be to rid themselves of Ware's contract, which is due to pay the pass rusher a base salary of $12.25 million in 2014 and $13.75 million in 2015. Ware has said that he will not take a pay cut, although he is willing to restructure his deal to clear space.

Denver Broncos - Champ Bailey

One of the no-brainers of the list, there's simply no way the Broncos can justify paying Bailey $10 million to stick around. While the future Hall of Fame cornerback says he wants to keep playing, he'll have to take a huge pay cut if he wants to return with the Broncos.

Detroit Lions - N/A

The Lions already handled their cap casualties with the release of safety Louis Delmas and wide receiver Nate Burleson. The pair of moves cleared up $11.5 million in cap space for the team.

Green Bay Packers - Tramon Williams

Typically, the Packers avoid paying players over 30 the way the team is set to pay Williams. The Packers might look to restructure his deal, due to count $9.5 million against the cap, or convince him to take a pay cut, but it's hard to imagine that the team would part ways with such a solid cornerback.

Houston Texans - Matt Schaub

The quarterback is due to count over $14 million against the cap for the 2014 season, but the Texans can't do much to get that money back. By releasing Schaub, the Texans would free up less than $4 million and have $10.5 million in dead money. Still, there's no point keeping Schaub's large contract on the roster if he isn't going to play.

Indianapolis Colts - Samson Satele

The interior offensive line of the Colts had a rough time in 2014, including Satele, who was unable to generate much push in the run game. The team has a ton of cap space to work with, so saving $4 million by parting ways with the center isn't necessary, but the position could be one that the Colts look to upgrade and save money in the process.

Jacksonville Jaguars - Jason Babin

The Jaguars desperately need help with their pass rush and Babin might be their best player in that regard. However, he hasn't been productive enough to match a price tag that exceeds $6 million for the 2014 season. If the Jaguars look elsewhere to add to their pass rush, Babin could be on the outs. With plenty of cap space to work with, cutting the veteran isn't a necessity, however.

Kansas City Chiefs - N/A

There are a few players on the Chiefs' roster with contracts that exceed $10 million for the 2014 season. However, they are all vital pieces for the franchise. Cornerback Dunta Robinson wasn't so vital, and his release earlier in February saved the Chiefs $3 million in cap space.

Miami Dolphins - Dimitri Patterson

Patterson is a solid defensive back when healthy. Unfortunately for him, he has never been able to stay healthy. The Dolphins can save $5.4 million by letting go of Patterson, who missed 10 games last season, although the team isn't hurting for cap space at all.

Minnesota Vikings - Letroy Guion

Guion hasn't been terrific for Minnesota at nose tackle, but there isn't much depth behind him. That could make it hard for the Vikings to part ways with him, but releasing Guion would free up $4 million in space, which Minnesota could use to look for an upgrade at the position.

New England Patriots - Isaac Sopoaga

Acquired via trade in October, Sopoaga likely won't see another season with New England. The team is hurting for cap space and can clear $2.5 million by releasing him. Sopoagoa was a rotational defensive tackle that wasn't very productive for the Patriots when he was in the lineup.

New Orleans Saints - N/A

The Saints cleared plenty of cap space with the release of Jabari Greer, Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma and Roman Harper earlier in February. They were necessary moves for a team that was in plenty of salary cap trouble. Don't expect the team to make more cuts, for now.

New York Giants - Antrel Rolle

Rolle has been a good player for the Giants in the secondary, but the team doesn't have much cap room to work with and there are a lot of free agents they're going to want to bring back. New York can save over $7 million by cutting Rolle, though it may opt to restructure his deal instead.

New York Jets - Santonio Holmes

Holmes is still a member of the Jets, but his release is simply a formality at this point. New York has already added the $8.25 million it will save from releasing Holmes into its offseason estimations.

Oakland Raiders - N/A

The Raiders are loaded with cap space and don't have contracts that need to be purged. While the release of Terrelle Pryor is a possibility during the offseason, it wouldn't be because of his sub-$1 million cap hit.

Philadelphia Eagles - James Casey

Brent Celek is the go-to player at tight end for the Eagles, and they began to work in rookie Zach Ertz during the 2013 season. That makes Casey the odd man out. With his nearly $4 million salary becoming guaranteed in the middle of March, Philadelphia likely won't waste time cutting ties, either.

Pittsburgh Steelers - LaMarr Woodley

The Steelers can clear $8 million in space if they wait until June to part ways with pass rusher LaMarr Woodley. With his production down, his age up and a large price tag that doesn't blend well with those factors, Woodley would almost certainly need to take a pay cut to stay in Pittsburgh in 2014.

San Diego Chargers - Jeromey Clary

There aren't many teams that have rougher salary cap situations than the Chargers, which means there might be a few players to part ways with. At the head of the list is Clary, who is due to count $6.25 million against the cap in 2014 despite struggling to provide much push in the run game during the 2013 season.

San Francisco 49ers - Carlos Rogers

The 49ers only have about $5 million in cap space to work with during the 2014 offseason, but can double that amount with the release of Rogers. A solid player for the team, Rogers isn't irreplaceable and represents $5.1 million in potential savings if let go.

Seattle Seahawks - Sidney Rice

The defending Super Bowl champions don't have much room to work with on the salary cap, but have plenty of options to clear a lot of space in a hurry. By releasing the oft-injured Rice, the Seahawks would save $7.3 million in cap space. Zach Miller, Chris Clemons and Red Bryant represent an additional $18 million in combined potential cap space that can be cleared upon their releases, although it's unlikely that Seattle parts ways with all four.

St. Louis Rams - Cortland Finnegan

The biggest move any team could make to clear cap space would be if the Rams release quarterback Sam Bradford. By waiting until June they could clear over $13 million in space. At the moment, however, that move seems like a long shot. The release of Finnegan doesn't, though, as the cornerback struggled plenty in 2013 and represents $7 million in savings if he is released.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Carl Nicks

Adding Nicks was a move that was supposed to put the Buccaneers over the top, but he has played in just nine games over his two seasons with the team. Jason Cole of the National Football Post reports Nicks could be a cap casualty, but it's a move that wouldn't spare the Buccaneers much space. Due to count over $9.3 million against the cap in 2014, the Buccaneers would recoup only $2.29 million of that space and would sit on more than $7 million in dead money if Nicks is released.

Tennessee Titans - Chris Johnson

It's not a matter of "if" Johnson is released by the Titans, but "when," according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennesseean. Johnson's release would clear $6 million in space for the team. He could be joined on his way out the door by defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, who hasn't been productive enough to match his contract.

Washington Redskins - Stephen Bowen

Bowen has been an up-and-down player during his time with the Redskins, but injuries during his 2013 season made it more down than up. Due to count $7 million against the cap in 2014 and $8 million in 2015, the release of Bowen would only save the Redskins about $2 million in space during the 2014 offseason, but would clear $5.5 million off the books for 2015.

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