Due to the nature of NFL contracts not being guaranteed, it’s incredibly common for players to be cut midway through their deals, especially if they are underperforming of if a team is in dire straits to get under the cap. While many players could remain with the team by restructuring their deals, others will just be outright released. Here are players who could be released for cap relief from each team:
Cap space: $31.5 million*
*Includes added cap space from Carson Palmer’s retirement
Jared Veldheer, Offensive Tackle ($6.9 million in cap space freed)
Veldheer has struggled over the past two seasons, missing 11 total games and struggling both in run and pass protection i n 2017.
Deone Bucannon, Safety/Inside Linebacker ($8.7 million)
Bucannon is undersized for the inside linebacker position he played in Bruce Arians’ defense and with Arians and defensive coordinator James Bettcher gone, he may not have a spot on the roster. Last year’s first round pick Haason Reddick would slide into Bucannon’s spot.
Adrian Peterson, Running Back ($2.9 million)
Peterson showed flashes of the player he once was after the Cardinals acquired him in a midseason trade with New Orleans, but he is far from the player he once was and isn’t worth retaining on the roster with David Johnson returning next season and with Kerwynn Williams taking snaps from Peterson at the end of the year.
Cap space: $16.6 million
Andy Levitre, Guard ($7 million)
Levitre hasn’t been bad on the field, but he turns 32 this season and his 2017 campaign was cut short due to a triceps injury. With Atlanta struggling with cap space, they may be forced to let Levitre walk if they can’t get him to restructure.
Matt Schaub, Quarterback ($3.3 million)
Schaub returned to Atlanta, the team that drafted him, in 2016 to become Matt Ryan’s backup, but his high salary may force the Falcons to let him walk. Practice squad quarterback Garrett Grayson could manage the clipboard or the Falcons could look to the draft.
Cap space: $11.1 million
Jeremy Maclin, Wide Receiver ($5 million)
Maclin is coming off of back-to-back career-worst seasons and with the Ravens offense bottoming out, Baltimore will likely clean house at wide receiver.
Brandon Carr, Cornerback ($4 million)
Carr wasn’t bad in Baltimore, but the team is cash-strapped and could really use the cap relief from Carr, who is the No. 3 cornerback behind Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith.
Cap space: $40.8 million*
*Includes added cap space from Eric Wood’s retirement.
Tyrod Taylor, Quarterback ($9.4 million)
Buffalo seems very eager to move on from Taylor despite the fact that he helped lead Buffalo to their first playoff appearance this millennium. Buffalo could make a run for Kirk Cousins if they let Taylor walk.
Lorenzo Alexander, Outside Linebacker ($2.6 million)
Alexander had a career year in 2016, earning a second-team All-Pro nod, but we predicted he would be a one-hit wonder and he took a step back in 2017. Buffalo, however, does have cap space, so he could stay put.
Cap space: $22.3 million
Greg Olsen, Tight End ($6.8 million)
Olsen turns 33 this offseason and injuries limited him to seven games in 2017. He’s Cam Newton’s favorite target and a restructure is more likely, but he’s definitely a name to watch in the offseason.
Jonathan Stewart, Running Back ($3.7 million)
Carolina took Christian McCaffrey with their top draft pick last year, so the writing was on the walls for Stewart, who turns 31 this offseason.
Charles Johnson, Defensive End ($3.3 million)
Johnson’s production fell off a cliff in 2017, registering just 20 total pressures last season. The defensive end turns 32 this offseason.
Cap space: $41.7 million
Mike Glennon, Quarterback ($11.5 million)
Why did they give Glennon such a big contract again? Mitchell Trubisky is now the franchise quarterback (for now) and Glennon is nothing more than an overpriced backup.
Josh Sitton, Guard ($7.9 million)
Sitton has a team option this season, which Bears beat writer Brad Biggs hinted they may not pick up. Sitton has been very good for the Bears since signing him in 2016, grading at Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 guard last season, but he has also missed three games each year and is turning 32. Releasing Sitton would create an unnecessary hole on Chicago’s offensive line, but could be done as the team looks to continue with a youth movement.
Dion Sims, Tight End ($5.7 million)
Another regrettable signing from last offseason, Sims was one of the worst tight ends in the NFL last season. He’s not worth his bloated contract.
Cap space: $38.2 million
Andy Dalton, Quarterback ($13.9 million)
This is a longshot, but after back-to-back underwhelming seasons, the Bengals could be ready to pull the trigger and move forward with A.J. McCarron.
Dre Kirkpactrick, Cornerback ($4 million)
The Bengals have invested heavily in cornerback and both Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson have outperformed Kirkpatrick. Perhaps the Bengals will move on.
Michael Johnson , Defensive Line ($5 million)
Johnson performed better once he moved inside to tackle, but he’s still not worth his salary. A restructure could always happen too, but he turns 31 next week and it wouldn’t exactly be surprising if the Bengals moved on.
Cap space: $111 million
Sammie Coates, Wide Receiver ($730,000)
The Browns have more than $100 million in cap space, so naturally, there really aren’t any overpaid players on their roster. Coates couldn’t crack a talent-poor and depleted Browns lineup last season.
Spencer Drango, Offensive Tackle ($578,087)
Drango filled in at left tackle once Joe Thomas went down for the year and immediately became the worst offensive tackle in football. His career could be in jeopardy.
Cap space: $18.4 million
Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver ($8.5 million)
Dallas has already stated that they won’t release Bryant, but teams say things and do the opposite all of the time. I don’t truly believe that they will move on from Bryant, but they are tight on cap space at the moment, so it’s not impossible.
Jason Witten, Tight End ($6.5 million)
Witten is still far and away the best tight end on this team, but he’s turning 36 and is no longer the player he once was – nor is he worth $6.5 million. He has already had an interesting offseason storyline as he was connected to the Tennessee Volunteers head coaching gig at one point. Retirement could be a possibility.
Randy Gregory, Defensive End ($955,218)
Gregory is immensely talented and if it was not for his character issues, he could have been a top 10 selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. His character issues have haunted him in the NFL has he is coming off of a year-long suspension. Dallas may decide he isn’t worth the headache.
Cap space: $26.8 million
Aqib Talib, Cornerback ($11 million)
He turns 32 next week, but Talib still plays at a high level, making the Pro Bowl last year and surrendering just 250 yards and 25 receptions in 2017. His cap number is high and there’s been chatter about Denver trading him (and they reportedly offered him to Kansas City for Alex Smith), but they may be forced to release him if they have no suitors.
Demariyus Thomas, Wide Receiver ($5 million)
Both Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders could be on the chopping block. Thomas is the superior talent while Sanders has been more productive, but both bring significant cap relief, so I can’t see both of them staying.
Menelik Watson, Offensive Tackle ($4.5 million)
Watson has struggled throughout his NFL career and he continued his poor level of play in 2017, grading out as the No. 73 tackle according to Pro Football Focus. He is worth the veteran’s minimum, not his $7.2 million cap number.
Cap space: $44.7 million
Eric Ebron ($8.3 million)
Ebron has never been good and I am still scratching my head at the fact that Detroit exercised their fifth-year option on him. It’s time to move on from the drop-prone tight end.
Golden Tate ($7 million)
Merely stirring the pot here, but the Lions have a lot of cash tied up to Tate and Marvin Jones. Perhaps a restructure for Tate is more likely.
Green Bay Packers
Cap space: $16.9 million
Randall Cobb, Wide Receiver ($9.5 million)
Cobb has been a disappointment since his breakout 2014 campaign and for the second straight year, he’s failed to muster even 700 receiving yards. The Packers are tight on cap space and have a lot of holes to fill, making Cobb expendable.
Clay Matthews, Outside Linebacker ($11.4 million)
Matthews bounced back in 2017 after a dismal 2016 campaign, but he’s not the player he once was, especially as a pass rusher. Green Bay is desperate for cap space, so they may be forced to move on, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded him instead of outright releasing the former defensive player of the year.
Mason Crosby, Kicker ($2.8 million)
Green Bay’s much maligned kicker is coming off of a season where he converted just 78.9 percent of his field goals. Kickers are an easily expendable position and the Packers may look for a younger, cheaper option than the 33-year-old.
Cap space: $56.6 million
Kareem Jackson, Cornerback ($6.8 million)
Jackson was torched throughout 2017, surrendering 818 yards in the air – the most of any player in the NFL – and four touchdowns. Opposing quarterbacks completed 72.1 percent of their passes and had a passer rating of 112.5 when targeting Jackson.
Brian Cushing, Linebacker ($7.6 million)
Another once promising player whose skills have been sapped by injuries and father time. Cushing is coming off of yet another sub-par campaign and at age 31 and Zach Cunningham now in town, he’s expendable.
Lamar Miller, Running Back ($4.8 million)
Miller is still young, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations in Houston, plodding his way to just 3.9 carries in two seasons. The Texans can afford to move on without him.
Cap space: $77.3 million
Robert Turbin, Running Back ($1.1 million)
The Colts may be ready to move forward with Marlon Mack and while Frank Gore will likely not return, Turbin isn’t exactly good enough to be the No. 2 back for Indianapolis and he doesn’t have a role on special teams.
John Simon, Outside Linebacker ($3.3 million)
Simon isn’t a bad run defender, but he struggles in coverage and as a pass rusher. There are cheaper options out there that can do what Simon does.
Cap space: $16.5 million
Blake Bortles, Quarterback ($19.1 million)
The Jaguars have a tough decision to make this offseason. Bortles had a career year and functioned as a game manager while Jacksonville’s defense and rush attack became the keys to success, but when needed Bortles showed up and limited his mistakes this year. Bortles isn’t worth $19.1 million, but he at least earned the chance to play the final year of his deal.
Marcedes Lewis, Tight End ($5 million)
The longest-tenured Jaguar, Lewis caught the second-most touchdowns of his careerm but he is no longer the pass-catching threat he once was.
Abry Jones, Defensive Tackle ($3.5 million)
While Jones has not been bad, Jacksonville is loaded at talent on the defensive line and he could be the odd man out as the Jaguars look for cap relief.
Kansas City Chiefs
Cap space: $4.8 million*
*Includes added cap space from the pending Alex Smith trade
Darrelle Revis, Cornerback ($4.5 million)
Revis was signed late in the year and then showed why he wasn’t signed during the offseason. With Kendall Fuller coming to Kansas City as part of the Smith trade, Revis is more than expendable.
Dee Ford, Outside Linebacker ($8.7 million)
Ford missed most of 2017, but he struggled on the field and has no guaranteed money left on his contract.
Ron Parker, Safety ($5 million)
Parker played much more than planned after Eric Berry went down and struggled tremendously, especially on the run where he had a run stop percentage of 1.6.
Los Angeles Chargers
Cap space: $23 million
Travis Benjamin, Wide Receiver ($4.5 million)
With Mike Williams expected to take on a bigger role in the offense and Keenan Allen rebounding in 2017, Benjamin’s role on the offense is reduced and they can afford to move on from him.
Brandon Mebane, Defensive Tackle ($4.5 million)
Mebane is entering the final year of his deal with the Chargers, but he ended 2016 on injured reserve and took a step back last year. He’s 33 now and the Chargers have good enough depth on the defensive line that he isn’t a necessity for this roster.
Joseph Barksdale, Offensive Tackle ($3.8 million)
Barksdale was once a promising tackle with a lot of upside, performing well while with the Rams, but he has been a liability for the Chargers in his two seasons with the team.
Los Angeles Rams
Cap space: $40.9 million
Robert Quinn, Defensive End ($11.4 million)
Quinn was once a force, winning defensive player of the year in 2013, but his level of play has declined in recent years and he only generated 38 total pressures last season. With a steep price tag, it may be time to move on.
Tavon Austin, Wide Receiver ($3 million)
Austin has completely disappeared in Sean McVay’s offense. There’s no sense in retaining him.
Mark Barron, Inside Linebacker ($7 million)
A former safety, Barron converted to linebacker in 2015 and while he has not played poorly, the Rams are better off with the additional cap space.
Cap space: $7.5 million
Ja’Wuan James, Offensive Tackle ($9.3 million)
James name has been floated among those who could be a cap casualty. He was easily their best offensive lineman before getting injured last year and Miami should be able to find a trade partner.
Lawrence Timmons, Outside Linebacker ($5.5 million)
Timmons was terrible at the end of his tenure in Pittsburgh and a change of scenery did not help after signing with Miami. His NFL career could be in jeopardy.
Julius Thomas, Tight End ($6.6 million)
Tight end was a black hole in Miami this year and Thomas, a former All-Pro, continued his post-Peyton Manning struggles. He’ll have to settle for a “prove-it” deal during this spin in free agency.
Cap space: $50.2 million
Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Tackle ($6.8 million)
Floyd’s career is in serious jeopardy after it was revealed that he has nerve damage in his knee. He could retire, but I don’t expect him to be on the Vikings roster either way.
Latavius Murray, Running Back ($5.2 million)
Murray may ultimately restructure as Jerick McKinnon is headed for free agency and Dalvin Cook is returning from an ACL tear. He played well once Cook went down last season and is a goal line threat, but his salary is high for a backup running back.
New England Patriots
Cap space: $13.9 million
Martellus Bennett, Tight End ($6.2 million)
Bennett latched onto the Patriots late in the season after being cut by Green Bay but he couldn’t repeat his past success with New England, especially with a healthy Rob Gronkowski ahead of him.
Dwayne Allen, Tight End ($5 million)
Bill Belichick has a lot of money tied up to tight ends. Allen underperformed, which is why New England added Bennett to begin with.
David Harris, Inside Linebacker ($2.1 million)
Despite the poor play New England exhibited at linebacker this year, Harris couldn’t make an impact as he had hoped and found himself a healthy scratch for much of the season.
Mike Gillislee, Running Back ($2.2 million)
Gillislee had a monster game against Kansas City to kick off the season and the faded away into the back of the running back rotation. Rex Burkhead ultimately took his spot and Gillislee wound up becoming a healthy scratch for the remainder of the year.
New Orleans Saints
Cap space: $31.2 million
Coby Fleener, Tight End ($3.2 million)
Fleener was expected to put up Jimmy Graham-like numbers when he signed with New Orleans, but it was quickly shown that he wouldn’t live up to those expectations. He struggled again last year before landing on injured reserve due to a concussion.
Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle ($1 million)
Fairley has been a good, albeit underrated player in his career, but a heart condition took away his 2017 campaign and could ultimately end his career.
Thomas Morstead, Punter ($4.2 million)
Morstead has been a very good punter in his NFL career, but his salary is a bit steep for the position, so New Orleans could look for cap relief.
New York Giants
Cap space: $22.3 million
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cornerback ($6.5 million)
Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t play to his All-Pro level of 2016, but he was a solid cornerback nonetheless, but New York needs some cap relief, making him expendable.
Brandon Marshall, Wide Receiver ($5.2 million)
Marshall’s time with the Giants was short-lived as he performed poorly before an ankle injury ended his season. While there’s a clear lack of talent on the team at wide receiver, they will likely look to replace him in the draft.
Dwayne Harris, Wide Receiver ($2.5 million)
Harris is turning 31 this year and broke his foot last October. New York is better off not committing so much money to a returner.
Bobby Hart, Offensive Tackle ($1.9 million)
Hart allowed just six less total pressures than Ereck Flowers despite playing nearly half as many snaps. He was one of the worst offensive tackles in football and the Giants will need to focus on restructuring the offensive line this offseason.
New York Jets
Cap space: $72.4 million
Muhammad Wilkerson, Defensive End ($11 million)
Wilkerson’s level of play has declined since he signed a monster contract extension and he was in the coach’s doghouse at the tail end of last year. There’s already been chatter of the Jets cutting him.
Buster Skrine, Cornerback ($6 million)
Skrine has never been a good NFL player, which is why it’s weird that the Jets gave him a five-year deal. Regardless, it’s time to let him go.
Matt Forte, Running Back ($3 million)
Forte is 32 with a lot of miles on his tires while Bilal Powell emerged as the lead back for the Jets.
Cap space: $13.8 million
Michael Crabtree, Wide Receiver ($7.7 million)
Crabtree has functioned well as the No. 2 receiver for the Raiders, but they’re cash strapped and have already discussed releasing him.
David Amerson, Cornerback ($6 million)
Amerson revitalized his career with the Raiders and earned an extension in the process, but he fell back to earth in 2017, allowing 21 catches on 28 targets for 369 and four touchdowns in coverage before being shut down midseason. Opposing quarterbacks had a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeting him.
Note: Just before publication, Oakland released Amerson.
Jared Cook, Tight End ($5.3 million)
Cook is still an awful blocker and while he had 688 receiving yards, he wasn’t impactful enough in the red zone to justify remaining on the roster.
Cap space: (-$9.3 million)
Jason Peters, Offensive Tackle ($4.3 million)
I doubt Peters is released, but he’s worth mentioning due to the fact that he’s 36 and coming off of a torn ACL and MCL. Retirement is an option, as well as a restructured deal.
Brent Celek, Tight End ($4 million)
Celek has taken a step back this year as Zach Ertz broke out. Philadelphia needs the cap space and they can find a cheaper replacement.
Torrey Smith, Wide Receiver ($5 million)
Alshon Jeffery was the top dog for the Eagles while Nelson Agholor had a great rebound season, making Smith expendable.
Chance Warmack, Guard ($1.2 million)
The change of scenery didn’t help for the former No. 10 overall pick. Warmack struggled in limited action and is expendable.
Cap space: (-$4.1 million)
Landry Jones, Quarterback ($1.9 million)
The Steelers seemed like they were ready to move on from Jones when they drafted Josh Dobbs last season.
Ryan Shazier, Linebacker ($8.7 million)
It’s more likely that Shazier will retire, and I think cutting him would be a bad PR move, but Pittsburgh’s backs are against the wall since they’re over the cap and Shazier gives them a big chunk of cap relief, especially since his contract is guaranteed for injury.
Tyson Alualu, Defensive End ($3 million)
Why did Pittsburgh sign him again? Alualu was a late second round talent who went top 10 and never lived up to expectations in Jacksonville and he continued his poor play in Pittsburgh.
Vance McDonald, Tight End ($4.3 million)
McDonald was acquired by Pittsburgh before the season and both he and Jesse James struggled to become a commanding presence at tight end. Tight end will likely be one of the top positions addressed in the draft.
San Francisco 49ers
Cap space: $113.6 million
Jimmie Ward, Safety ($8.5 million)
Ward struggled in 2017 before landing on injured reserve. He never lived up to the hype of a first rounder, so he could be replaced.
Elvis Dumervil, Outside Linebacker ($3.5 million)
Dumervil is 34 and isn’t the player he once was. San Francisco is flush with cap space though and he is a good clubhouse guy so they may opt to retain him.
Zane Beadles, Guard ($3.5 million)
Beadles has been one of the worst offensive lineman for years now and his career is in jeopardy at this point.
Cap space: $13.5 million
Richard Sherman, Cornerback ($11 million)
There were rumors that Seattle wanted to trade Sherman last year. He turns 30 in March and is coming off of an Achilles injury. While I think a release is unlikely, his age and injury concerns made it worth mentioning. He could be traded this offseason too.
Cliff Avril, Defensive End ($7.1 million)
The Seahawks now have cap issues and problems all across their offense, which means the core on defense may be breaking up.
Jon Ryan, Punter ($2 million)
Seattle’s tight on cap space and paying a lot for a punter is a luxury they can no longer afford.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap space: $59.7 million
Doug Martin, Running Back ($6.8 million)
After rushing for 1,402 yards in 2015, Martin has limped to two consecutive seasons with a 2.9 yards per carry average.
William Gholston, Defensive End ($6.5 million)
Gholston has struggled in back-to-back seasons, generating just five total pressures in 191 pass rush snaps last year.
Donovan Smith, Offensive Tackle ($1.3 million)
Smith is one of the worst tackles in football and makes Jameis Winston’s life significantly harder. It’s time to move on.
Cap space: $49.1 million
Derrick Morgan, Outside Linebacker ($7 million)
Morgan has been underrated in Tennessee, but the new regime may look to move on as they search for a new edge rusher.
DeMarco Murray, Running Back ($6.5 million)
Derrick Henry was clearly the better running back last year and since the two have a similar playing style, the aging Murray is expendable.
Matt Cassel, Quarterback ($2.5 million)
Tennessee needs an upgrade at backup quarterback. Cassel was a completely liability when spelling Marcus Mariota this season.
Cap space: $27.7 million*
*Includes Alex Smith’s salary in upcoming deal
Vernon Davis, Tight End ($1.2 million)
Davis had a bit of a career revival as he came in for the injured Jordan Reed. Davis turned 34 last week.
Colt McCoy, Quarterback ($3 million)
McCoy is a Jay Gruden guy, but he may have priced his way out of his backup gig.