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?
Atlanta Falcons. There already have been reports that the Falcons are likely to release veteran running back Michael Turner. He is scheduled to count $8.9 million against the cap and the Falcons could free up $6.9 million by releasing him. Turner is 31 and clearly isn’t the same runner he was earlier in his career. The Falcons could put the added cap space to good use as they try to keep safety William Moore, cornerback Brent Grimes and left tackle Sam Baker from leaving via free agency.
Carolina Panthers. Chris Gamble is the team’s best cornerback, but it seems impossible for the Panthers to keep him and his $10.9 million cap figure. The Panthers could free up $7.9 million by releasing Gamble.
New Orleans Saints. Although there have been reports the Saints might try to keep defensive end Will Smith with a restructured contract, that might be impossible to do. Smith has a $14.5 million cap figure, including $9 million in base salary, and his recent production doesn’t align with those numbers. In a normal restructure, numbers get moved around, but the player still ends up making the same amount of money. In Smith’s case, it’s likely he’ll have to take a big cut in pay to stick around.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are roughly $30 million under the cap at the moment, so it’s not like they need to release anyone for cap purposes. But cornerback Eric Wright appears to be a likely casualty. His suspension last year voided his salary guarantee for this year. That means the Bucs could instantly clear $7.75 million by releasing Wright.