Safety Morgan Burnett had a down year in 2013. Could the Packers cut him to create more cap space?
It's not often that the Green Bay Packers cut big-name players in order to create more cap space, but they may be forced as the team heads into the 2014 offseason.
The key for Green Bay is to figure out which players are simply making too much money this year and who could be replaced easily. For example, quarterback Aaron Rodgers makes quite a bit of money in 2014, but it makes absolutely no sense to cut him.
Here are six cuts that the Packers could make in order to free up cap room.
*All cap figures courtesy of Spotrac.com.
Amount Owed in 2014: $2 million
Sometimes it feels like Jarrett Bush is always on the roster bubble when it comes to getting cut. The reason for this is likely due to the up-and-down nature of Bush's play on the field.
There are times when Bush can look like a solid cornerback for the Packers. Take his crucial interception of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in Week 14 as evidence. Without Bush's stellar play late in that game, it's definitely possible that the Packers would have lost.
However, for all the good that Bush does, he seems to equal it with the amount of times he's out of position or unable to play his position properly. He continues to be one of the more frustrating players for Green Bay.
With cornerback Casey Hayward coming back from injury and Micah Hyde continuing to develop, the Packers could eventually have the talent in the secondary to release Bush. While letting him go wouldn't give the Packers a ton of extra cash to work with, every little bit would help Green Bay this offseason.
Amount Owed in 2014: $2 million
While Nick Perry is only entering his third season in the league, it'd be hard to call his first two seasons anything but a major disappointment. His switch from college defensive end to NFL outside linebacker simply hasn't gone well.
He's only played in 17 games in two years while dealing with injuries on a rather consistent basis. Perry has also only recorded six sacks during his career.
Considering that Perry was brought in specifically for his pass-rushing skills, it wouldn't be surprising at all if the Green Bay Packers weren't pleased with Perry. Now it's definitely possible that Perry figures things out in his third year in the league, but with each game he misses or underperforms it becomes less and less likely.
Don't be surprised if the Packers look to add a true outside linebacker to pair with Clay Matthews this offseason while cutting Perry to save some cap room.
Amount Owed in 2014: $3.4 million
It may sound crazy to think that Mason Crosby could get cut after such a great season, but the Green Bay Packers should definitely look into it.
Crosby is currently owed the fifth-most money for a kicker for the 2014 season. That puts him ahead of guys like Sebastian Janikowski, Mike Nugent and Alex Henery.
Now Crosby certainly was valuable, but he isn't $3.4 million valuable. By cutting Crosby and picking up an undrafted free agent, the Packers could save quite a bit of money this offseason.
Amount Owed in 2014: $4 million
There were some rather high expectations for Brad Jones heading into the 2013 season. After looking like a breakout player in 2012, Jones was supposed to become one of the better defensive players for the Green Bay Packers.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen for Jones or the Packers. In fact, Jones had a rather difficult time this past season. He finished the year as the No. 28 inside linebacker according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
With the surprising play of Jamari Lattimore last year, the Packers could decide that Jones is no longer necessary on the roster. Sure, Lattimore is a free agent this year, but there's no way he'd be paid even close to $4 million by anyone.
Another option for the Packers would be for them to target an inside linebacker during the NFL draft. If they feel convinced they can grab a potential starter then they may feel confident in releasing Jones.
Look for the Packers to think long and hard about cutting Jones in order to free up some cap space.
Amount Owed in 2014: $4.9 million
The Green Bay Packers currently only have two safeties under contract for the 2014 season, so releasing Morgan Burnett may sound like a crazy idea. However, it's a completely justifiable one for the Packers.
For starters, Burnett struggled mightily during the 2013 season. He finished the year as the 63rd-best safety in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Burnett missed tackles, was unable to cover and simply didn't make much of an impact at all for the Packers defense.
There's no doubt that the lack of depth at safety would initially be a little frightening, but the Packers could use the money they owed Burnett to go out in free agency and sign an impact safety. They could then draft one or two safeties and have a completely rebuilt group of safeties for the 2014 season.
It'd definitely be a surprising move for the Packers, but it might be the one that they need to make in order to move forward as a team.
Amount Owed in 2014: $9.5 million
The play of Tramon Williams has been on a steady decline since his breakout performance a few years back. While the 2013 season was supposed to be the year he got back on track, that simply wasn't the case.
Williams struggled for the majority of this past year with both his coverage skills and tackling ability. While he did get much better as the season progressed, it simply wasn't good enough for the Green Bay Packers to overlook this offseason.
At a $9.5 million cap hit this year, Williams is currently the 10th-highest paid cornerback in the NFL. He'll make more money than Joe Haden, Patrick Peterson and Leon Hall this upcoming year.
If the Packers decide to not cut Williams then they'll absolutely need to restructure his contract and ask him to take a pay cut. However, releasing Williams would create a ton of cap space that the Packers could really use his offseason.