Welcome to Eight in the Box, an NFL Nation feature that will appear each Friday during the offseason. This week's topic: Who will be each team's biggest salary-cap casualty this offseason?
Buffalo Bills: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is the prime candidate. The Bills already have begun their defensive makeover by cutting linebacker Nick Barnett, safety George Wilson and cornerback Terrence McGee. But their biggest salary-cap question is Fitzpatrick. He's due a $3 million roster bonus in March, a $4.25 million salary and an easy-to-obtain $200,000 workout bonus. That is a lot of money for an erratic starter who might be a backup next season. The Bills could save bonus money and salary by cutting Fitzpatrick, but they also would inherit “dead money” on the cap because of past bonuses. The Bills could also ask Fitzpatrick to restructure his contract to keep him on the roster.
Miami Dolphins: Cornerback Dimitri Patterson tops the list. Because of injuries and underperformance, the Dolphins desperately needed depth at corner at the end of last season. Miami hastily claimed Patterson off waivers and took on the $16 million contract he recently signed with the Cleveland Browns. But the Dolphins knew Patterson’s contract has an out this offseason. Miami can cut Patterson and his $4.5 million salary in 2013 with no penalty. Like Fitzpatrick, Patterson also could be a candidate to restructure.
New England Patriots: Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd could be cut. This is by no means a slam dunk -- the Patriots need to add receivers, not lose them. But Lloyd has a $3 million option bonus this offseason that could cause the Patriots to hesitate. Lloyd struggled to get on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady in their first year together. But Lloyd also made some acrobatic catches and showed flashes. New England would expect better chemistry from Lloyd and Brady in their second year together. But Lloyd remains a dark-horse candidate to be released.
New York Jets: Linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace have already been cut, and the Jets already made their biggest cuts. New York cut five players altogether and slashed about $30 million in salary to get under the cap. Scott and Pace represented the “old guard” in New York that led the team to back-to-back AFC title games in 2009 and 2010. But that time has passed, and it is time for the Jets to rebuild.