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On the bubble: 24 NFC players who could be cut
By Gregg Rosenthal
Around The League Editor
Published: Feb. 18, 2014 at 07:55 p.m. Updated: Feb. 18, 2014 at 08:19 p.m.
Everyone gets cut eventually. It's a rough fact of life in the NFL for everyone but Hall of Fame players, and plenty of them have been released too.
It's business season, and that includes a lot of releases. The New Orleans Saints are one of the teams that kick-started the process by saying goodbye to a quartet of defensive leaders. Plenty of other cuts are on the way before free agency kicks off March 11.
Here's a look at what players could be released in the NFC before then:
Strong candidates for release
1. Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver: Jerry Jones likes keeping overpaid stars past their expiration date, so nothing would surprise us.
2. Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams cornerback: Jeff Fisher and Gregg Williams probably like Finnegan more than any other coaching staff, so it's possible Finnegan will accept a big pay cut to stay.
3. Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears defensive end: The Bears' gambit to sign Peppers paid off overall the last four years. However, he's paid like one of the best players in football, and he's no longer that guy.
4. Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver: There isn't room for two highly paid, highly erratic wide receivers on the Seahawks' roster.
5. Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks tight end: We liked the signing of Miller at the time and he hasn't quite been the bust he's made out to be. (Like John Carlson in Seattle.) Still, Miller is not worth $5.8 million. He's a role player.
6. Mikel Leshoure, Detroit Lions running back: He wanted a trade out of town. Now he should hit the open market (and might struggle to find a gig).
7. Ryan Williams, Arizona Cardinals running back: The injury-plagued former second-round draft pick has seemingly lost his explosiveness.
9. Chris Snee, New York Giants guard: Tom Coughlin's son-in-law made four Pro Bowls. He's considering retirement because of injuries. The Giants continue to say goodbye to their Super Bowl winners.
10. Stephen Bowen, Washington Redskins defensive lineman: The Redskins need to save some cap room somewhere. Bowen's $7 million cap figure is one place to start. (Teammate Adam Carriker is another likely target.)
11. Michael Bush, Chicago Bears running back: There's no need to pay backup running backs so much money unless they are really special.
12 & 13. Carlos Rogers and Jon Baldwin, San Francisco 49ers: Rogers is due $6.6 million in total pay and struggled to have a role late last season. Baldwin was a no-risk trade gamble that didn't work out.
14. Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Once viewed a premier road-grading guard, Joseph has struggled to live up to his monster contract for years.
Potential surprise cuts
1. Chris Clemons, Seattle Seahawks defensive end: If the choice comes down to Michael Bennett or Clemons, the Seahawks could go with Bennett.
2. Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver: Well, this would be a surprise, right? The Falcons want White to sign a Terrell Suggs-like extension in order to lower his cap number. White sounds amenable to a new deal, which means it should probably get done. But it's worth remembering White's lofty place in the organization. He's not going to want a huge pay cut, and a disagreement in value could lead to hurt feelings and a surprise release.
3. Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings linebacker: He's just three years removed from a monster contract extension, and he's coming off a disastrous season. At 31 years old with a new coaching staff, the Vikings could dump his $6.4 million salary.
4. Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta Falcons safety: The NFL changes in a hurry. Decoud was awarded a Pro Bowl spot because the Falcons were so dominant in 2012. Now he looks like an unnecessary piece of the defense with a $4.2 million salary.
5. Osi Umenyiora, Atlanta Falcons defensive end: He believes he's coming back. Ultimately, so do we. The Falcons need pass-rush help and Umenyiora is better than what they have.
6. James Casey, Philadelphia Eagles tight end: He sounded like a great fit for Chip Kelly's offense, but turned out to be a bit player.
7 & 8. Antrel Rolle and Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants: Rolle was arguably the Giants' best defensive player last season, but his run in New York has been up and down overall. He's due $9.25 million against the salary cap and might not warm up to taking a pay cut coming off a great year. Kiwanuka is a good player that always seems to leave the Giants wanting a little more.
9. DeMeco Ryans, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker: His reputation and salary far exceed his play on the field (especially on passing downs). Do the Eagles want to pay $6.9 million for leadership?
10. Donald Penn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle: He's overpaid, but it's hard to find a left tackle. He could be asked to restructure his deal.
Other Potential Cuts
Atlanta Falcons: LB Stephen Nicholas
Arizona Cardinals: G Daryn Colledge
Carolina Panthers: S Charles Godfrey
Chicago Bears: WR Earl Bennett
Dallas Cowboys: G Mackenzy Bernadeau
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Minnesota Vikings: DT Letroy Guion
New York Giants: C David Baas
Philadelphia Eagles: CB Cary Williams, S Patrick Chung
St. Louis Rams: G Harvey Dahl, C Scott Wells, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, DL Kendall Langford
Washington Redskins: DE Adam Carriker, G Chris Chester, G Kory Lichtensteiger, OT Tyler Polumbus