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1 potential cap casualty for each NFL team in the 2018 offseason

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Dez Bryant, Aqib Talib, and Jason Peters could all be free agents soon as NFL teams prepare for the offseason.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency is on the way with the 2018 league year beginning March 14. For most teams, there is plenty of cap space available to make a splash, while a few will need to make a few moves to free up space.

Almost every team has at least one contract that will become a “cap casualty” and get terminated before the new league year begins as a way to clear a little extra space.

Here’s a look at players across the league who could be packing their bags as teams make room before free agency:

Arizona Cardinals: Adrian Peterson, RB

Peterson had a hot start in Arizona, but he didn’t score a touchdown in the last five games of the season and was bottled up by most opponents. With David Johnson returning in 2018, the Cardinals can dodge a $2.9 million cap hit by releasing Peterson.

Atlanta Falcons: Matt Schaub, QB

Matt Ryan hasn’t missed a game since 2009, and the Falcons can save $3.25 million by cutting Schaub. A restructure could be a better way to save money and make sure there’s still a reliable backup quarterback in place, though. It will likely depend on how the Falcons feel about Schaub, who turns 37 in June, and whether the team can find a cheaper option to put behind Ryan on the depth chart.

Baltimore Ravens: Jeremy Maclin, WR

Maclin was a surprising cap casualty for the Chiefs last summer, but it wouldn’t be as shocking if the Ravens did the same thing this offseason. He finished the season with just 440 yards receiving and three touchdowns. With a $7.5 million cap hit coming in 2018, the Ravens could save $5 million by releasing Maclin.

Buffalo Bills: Tyrod Taylor, QB

The Bills appear likely to move on at quarterback, and cutting Taylor will save the team $9.44 million. It’s really the only option to rid the roster of his team-leading $18.08 million cap hit in 2018, as Taylor isn’t interested in negotiating a pay cut and isn’t likely to be traded.

Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Stewart, RB

Production for running backs often drops off at age 30, and Stewart averaged a career-worst 3.4 yards per carry in 2017. His 31st birthday is in March, and the Panthers can save $3.7 million by releasing him this offseason. That’s not a ton of savings, but it might just be time for the Panthers to move on.

Chicago Bears: Mike Glennon, QB

Glennon received a three-year, $45 million contract last offseason with the hope that he’d hold down the starting job and allow the Bears to groom Mitchell Trubisky. Instead, he threw four touchdowns and five interceptions in his four starts and was replaced in October. Now he’s a backup due to count $16 million against the salary cap in 2018. The Bears can recoup $11.5 million of that space by releasing Glennon. It’s a no-brainer.

Cincinnati Bengals: Adam Jones, CB

Barring something really shocking, William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Darqueze Dennard — three first-round picks — will all be back in 2018. That’s a lot of money committed to cornerbacks, and the Bengals can save some by cutting Jones. He isn’t quite the headache he was in the past, but Jones served a one-game suspension for violation of the personal conduct policy in 2017. The opportunity to free up $5.8 million could make the 2018 offseason a good time to part with the cornerback.

Cleveland Browns: nobody

The Browns enter the 2018 offseason with more than $100 million in cap space and no need to make any big moves to clear more space. Even if Cleveland was looking for contracts to cast off, there really aren’t any. The Browns could save $14.25 million by releasing Joe Thomas, but even the thought of that is sacrilegious. Cleveland will make cuts in 2018, just like every other team, but none will be motivated by the need to clear space.

Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant, WR

This would be a surprising release, but it’s not out of the question. Bryant and Dak Prescott have never really been on the same page, and the receiver hasn’t topped 1,000 yards or double-digit touchdowns since 2014. With a $16.5 million cap hits in 2018 and 2019, the Cowboys can save $8.5 million this season and clear $12.5 million in space for 2019 by releasing Bryant.

Denver Broncos: Aqib Talib, CB

The Broncos are reportedly shopping Talib for a trade and not finding much interest. If he doesn’t get traded, Denver will probably release the cornerback to save $11 million for the 2018 season. The Broncos may also be ready to jettison wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to clear more space.

Detroit Lions: Eric Ebron, TE

After four seasons, Ebron has just 11 receiving touchdowns for the Lions. Detroit picked up his fifth-year option last year, which will pay the tight end $8.25 million next season. But it’s getting tough to believe he’ll turn into the player the Lions were hoping for when the team drafted him in the first round in 2014. By cutting him, the Lions could get all of that $8.25 million back.

Green Bay Packers: Jordy Nelson, WR

Nelson and Randall Cobb will count for more than $25 million combined against the cap in 2018. Green Bay can save $10.2 million by cutting Nelson and $9.5 million by cutting Cobb. Both are in danger of playing for new teams in 2018, but if the Packers have to choose just one, Cobb is younger, was more productive last season, and hasn’t suffered a major knee injury.

Houston Texans: Brian Cushing, LB

Cushing was suspended 10 games in 2017 for his second violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substance policy, and he struggled through a knee injury in 2016. The linebacker will be 31 in 2018 and is still an impact player when healthy and out of trouble. But the Texans could be close to done with Cushing and have a chance to save $7.6 million by cutting him.

Update: Cushing was officially released.

Indianapolis Colts: nobody

Like the Browns, the Colts have a ton of cap space to work with and no bad contracts to get rid of. The best ways to save money would be to cut Johnathan Hankins or Jabaal Sheard, but both played well enough in 2017 to warrant being back next season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Blake Bortles, QB

This would be a big one. It’s not every day you see a team release a quarterback after starting him in 61 consecutive games. But the $19.053 million fifth-year option the Jaguars picked up last year becomes fully guaranteed on March 14 and would be the biggest cap hit on the team in 2018. If the Jaguars aim to upgrade at quarterback, clearing that money off the books would be a good place to start.

Kansas City Chiefs: Tamba Hali, OLB

The outside linebacker is reportedly considering retirement, but the Chiefs could release him even if he decides to come back for another season. Hali hasn’t been a premier pass-rushing threat in a long time and his $9.4 million cap hit is just too much to carry in 2018. The Chiefs can save $7.7 million by releasing Hali, and that’s necessary for a team that’s one of the most strapped for cap space in the NFL.

Los Angeles Chargers: Corey Liuget, DT

The Chargers struggled to stop the run in 2017 and need to make upgrades at defensive tackle. That could mean the end of the road for Liuget and Brandon Mebane. Between the two, Liuget offers more possible savings with a $9.5 million cap hit on the horizon in 2018 and similar hits in the two seasons after that. By designating him as a post-June 1 release, the Chargers can save $8 million.

Los Angeles Rams: Tavon Austin, WR

The four-year, $42 million deal given to Austin a couple years ago left people scratching their heads. It didn’t take long for it to go south, and Austin was essentially phased out as a contributor in 2017. The Rams can only save $3 million in 2018, but that’s an easy call now that Austin isn’t even a returner for the Rams anymore. Robert Quinn and Mark Barron are two other players who could be cap casualties, but both played much more significant roles in 2017 and would be tougher to cut.

Miami Dolphins: Ja’Wuan James, OT

The Dolphins picked up the fifth-year option for the talented young offensive tackle but are expected to rescind that option and allow James to reach free agency after he struggled with injuries in 2017. It’d be a bold move for a team that has struggled on the offensive line, but would clear $9.341 million in cap space.

Minnesota Vikings: Latavius Murray, RB

It didn’t take Dalvin Cook much time at all to outplay Murray and earn the starting role in Minnesota, but when Cook went down with an ACL tear, the Vikings’ hands were tied. With Cook ready to come back in 2018, it’d be surprising if Minnesota let Murray count $6.35 million against the cap when the Vikings can save $5.15 million by cutting him.

New England Patriots: Martellus Bennett, TE

The Patriots have a few options to clear space — Mike Gillislee and Alan Branch are others — but parting ways with Bennett would free up the most with about $6.2 million in savings in 2018 and $6.5 million in 2019. The tight end was a midseason addition and appeared in two games for the Patriots before going to injured reserve.

New Orleans Saints: Coby Fleener, TE

Why exactly the Saints gave a five-year, $36 million deal to Fleener in the first place is a mystery, but it didn’t work out. In 11 games in 2017, he had just 22 receptions for 295 yards. With an $8 million cap hit in 2018 and hits of $9 and $9.1 million in the two seasons after that, it’s a contract the Saints will want to jettison.

New York Giants: Brandon Marshall, WR

In five games for the Giants, Marshall made just 18 catches for 154 yards before an ankle injury ended his season in October. At age 33, Marshall’s best days are likely behind him, and the Giants probably won’t hesitate to take $5.2 million in savings to move on from the veteran.

New York Jets: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT

Parting with Wilkerson is essentially a done deal after his 2017 season, which included the Jets making him a healthy scratch for a game in December. His $20 million cap hit means he won’t be back in 2018, but the question is how the Jets will do the deed.

The Jets could cut him immediately and save $11 million in 2018, or it could designate him as a post-June 1 release and save $17 million. The problem with the latter is that the extra $6 million wouldn’t be available to New York until June, meaning the team would carry his cap hit through free agency. Considering how much space the team has to work with, that’s probably not much of an issue.

Oakland Raiders: Michael Crabtree, WR

It was a weird season for Crabtree, who missed one game due to injury and another for a suspension after fighting Talib. He finished the season with 618 yards receiving — the second-lowest total of his career, behind only an injury-shortened season with the 49ers in 2013. With dipping numbers, the Raiders have a chance to clear him from the books altogether and save $7.7 million in 2018 and $8.25 million in 2019 with no dead money.

Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Peters, OT

The Eagles don’t have a terrible contract that needs to be purged, and that’s a problem because Philadelphia is hurting for cap space. It means some good players are going to be shown the door, and the nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle could be one. The Eagles can only save $5.3 million of his $11.7 million hit by releasing him, but that small savings might be worth it. Cutting defensive end Vinny Curry and trading Nick Foles could be other ways to save.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Mitchell, S

Now on the wrong side of 30, the defensive back didn’t have a good year for the Steelers. The team doesn’t have much cap space to work with, so Mitchell’s $8.1 million cap hit in 2018 could come under the microscope. If he’s released, the Steelers would save $5 million.

San Francisco 49ers: Elvis Dumervil, OLB

Even after giving Jimmy Garoppolo a record-breaking deal, the 49ers are still among the league leaders in cap space. But there are still a few opportunities for San Francisco to free up a little extra money by purging a few veteran contracts. Dumervil finished 2017 with a respectable 6 12 sacks, but he’s a rotational pass rusher. The 49ers could save $3.75 million and get younger by cutting him. Zane Beadles could also be in danger with $3.5 million in savings on the table.

Seattle Seahawks: Cliff Avril, DE

The Seahawks have a few tough calls to make with their aging defense in the next couple years, and Avril is up first. The veteran is entering his 11th NFL season but missed most of 2017 with a neck injury. If the Seahawks choose to move on from Avril, the team can save $7.1 million.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Doug Martin, RB

The two-time Pro Bowler finished each of the last two seasons with fewer than 3 yards per carry. When Martin finished serving a suspension for the first three games of the season, it voided the guaranteed money on his contract. That means Tampa Bay can release him this offseason and clear him from the books entirely, saving $6.75 million in cap space in 2018 and $7 million in 2019 and 2020.

Tennessee Titans: DeMarco Murray, RB

The Titans split carries evenly between Murray and Derrick Henry in 2017, but Henry was the more productive back. With Murray now 30 and due to count $6.5 million against the salary cap in each of the next two seasons, Tennessee can turn to Henry to be the bell cow and find a complementary back for a much lower price. Releasing Murray would result in no dead money.

Washington: Jordan Reed, TE

Reed still hasn’t played a 16-game season in his five years in the NFL. At his best, he’s a game-breaking athlete who was a Pro Bowler in 2016. But his latest season was limited to just six games due to a nagging hamstring injury. Reed will count more than $10 million against the salary cap in 2018 and at least $9 million in the three seasons after that, but Washington can save $8.3 million in 2018 by cutting him with a post-June 1 designation. It would be frustrating to part ways with a promising talent, but the team may feel like it’s time to stop being patient.