Every NFL Team's Toughest Contract Decision

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IFebruary 10, 2016

Every NFL Team's Toughest Contract Decision

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    Andrew Innerarity-USA TODAY Sports

    The offseason is here for all 32 NFL teams. That means rosters are about to start changing around the league in preparation for free agency and the NFL draft, which begin March 9 and April 28, respectively. 

    Every franchise has big decisions to make in terms of managing the salary cap and figuring out the futures of impending free agents. 

    In the following slides, we will look at the toughest contract decision awaiting each NFL team this offseason—factoring in cap situation, age, status within the franchise and each team's depth chart to pick the appropriate player. 

Arizona Cardinals: S Rashad Johnson

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    The Cardinals have tough decisions to make in the secondary, where Rashad Johnson, Jerraud Powers and Tony Jefferson are all scheduled to be free agents. 

    Johnson might be the hardest piece of the puzzle to figure out. He's been an indispensable player for Arizona's defense, recording nine interceptions and 153 tackles since the start of the 2014 season. But he also turned 30 in January, and back-to-back strong seasons should give him some leverage in contract talks. 

    One offensive teammate said Johnson should be a priority for the Cardinals, according to Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic

    "He’s such a veteran back there in our secondary," the player said. "We have a lot of young players. He’s kind of the glue that holds them together back there."

    Can the Cardinals afford to keep him, especially with other big deals—such as Tyrann Mathieu's extension—looming?

    Arizona has possessed one of the NFL's deepest, most versatile secondaries over the past few seasons. Keeping the whole gang together might be tough with all the mouths to feed. 

Atlanta Falcons: WR Roddy White

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    Roddy White is now 34 and four years removed from his last 1,000-yard receiving season. While he's still a capable contributor and an obvious leader for the Falcons locker room, Atlanta needs to figure out if the veteran receiver is worth keeping around for 2016.

    White will count roughly $6.1 million against the Falcons' cap next season. Atlanta can gain almost $2.4 million by releasing him.

    But maybe money isn't the most important factor for his future.

    “It’s a combination, of course he can still play,” head coach Dan Quinn said, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s a combination of can we feature him in the best way for him and allow other players to come up through the system as well.”

    A restructured deal probably makes the most sense for both sides, but it takes two to tango. The Falcons will have to weigh a number of variables before they decide on a player who once produced six straight 1,000-yard seasons in Atlanta. 

Baltimore Ravens: OT Eugene Monroe

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    The Ravens signed Eugene Monroe to a big deal back in 2014, but the last two seasons have been more about his missing games (15) than holding down the left tackle position. Now, Baltimore must decide whether to keep the 28-year-old around for the third year of his five-year deal. 

    Monroe will count $8.7 million on the Ravens' cap next season, but he still has $6.6 million left of his prorated signing bonus—meaning Baltimore would gain only $2.1 million this season if it released him. 

    The Ravens started Kelechi Osemele at left tackle for the final four games, and he fared well on Joe Flacco's blind side. However, Osemele is a free agent this offseason—leaving a potential huge question mark at left tackle. 

    Are the cap savings with Monroe worth depleting an important position, especially with Osemele's future in Baltimore still in the balance? Monroe might get one more year. 

Buffalo Bills: LT Cordy Glenn

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    John Wawrow of the Associated Press reported back in December that the Bills were planning on releasing defensive end Mario Williams, leaving Cordy Glenn—a looming free agent—as Buffalo's biggest offseason priority. 

    The decision here isn't about whether or not to bring the left tackle back. The Bills will do everything in their power to keep him in Buffalo, but the process could be a difficult one. 

    Glenn is only 26; he's excelled as a pass protector at left tackle and has the versatility to play on both the inside and outside of the offensive line. He's going to cost a small fortune to re-sign. 

    The Bills would likely prefer to finalize a long-term deal before March, but Glenn should know his value—especially if he's able to get to the open market. If push comes to shove, Buffalo might have to resort to the franchise tag to keep its emerging young tackle out of the shark tank of free agency. 

Carolina Panthers: CB Josh Norman

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    The Panthers are in a similar situation with Josh Norman as the Bills are with Cordy Glenn. There's no question about Carolina's interest in bringing back the All-Pro cornerback, but how will general manager Dave Gettleman—who doesn't have many other big obstacles this offseason—get it done?

    Norman almost certainly groups himself in the category of Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson, and rightfully so. Both of those cornerbacks recently signed contracts worth at least $40 million guaranteed, giving Norman a clear benchmark for his upcoming deal.

    If Norman and the Panthers can't find common ground, the franchise tag is always an available avenue. It's not a great option, especially given the price ($13.075 million in 2015 for cornerbacks), but keeping him for one expensive year beats losing him altogether. The tough part for Gettleman will be determining how high he's willing to go on a deal to keep Norman out of free agency.

Chicago Bears: RB Matt Forte

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    The Bears will likely be aggressive in re-signing receiver Alshon Jeffery, the team's top playmaker in the passing game and a looming free agent. But Matt Forte's future in Chicago is much more uncertain. 

    A two-time Pro Bowler, Forte has produced almost 13,000 total yards and scored 64 touchdowns over eight seasons with the Bears. He's also scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, and it's unclear—even to Forte—if Chicago wants him back. 

    "I mean, I want to return," Forte said, per Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com. "I haven't been approached or anything. But do I want to come back? Yes. That would be ideal for me, but that doesn't always happen in this business."

    The Bears have Jeremy Langford—a fourth-round pick in 2015 who played well in place of Forte as a rookie—ready to take over. Chicago would likely love to have a player of Forte's caliber back, but it'll be tough for general manager Ryan Pace to break the bank for a running back who turned 30 in December. 

Cincinnati Bengals: S Reggie Nelson

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    With a hoard of major free agents and a plethora of cap space, the Bengals should be aggressive in re-signing their own players this spring. 

    However, they will need to choose between the various in-house free agents. 

    Receiver Marvin Jones, cornerback Adam Jones, tackle Andre Smith and linebacker Vincent Rey highlight the group, and both starting safeties—Reggie Nelson and George Iloka—also have expiring contracts. 

    Iloka is only 25 and an ascending player, which makes him one of Cincinnati's priorities. If Iloka returns, it's hard to see the Bengals also bringing back Nelson, who turns 33 in September. Cincinnati has Shawn Williams ready to take over if one of the two safeties was to depart. 

    A veteran leader for the Bengals, Nelson tied for the league lead with eight interceptions and made the Pro Bowl last season. Giving him a market-level deal after a career season will be difficult, especially if other big names on the roster get their money before free agency. 

Cleveland Browns: C Alex Mack

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    Alex Mack has an opt-out clause in his contract, giving him the flexibility to void his deal and become a free agent. If he exercises that option, the Browns will have a tough decision to make on the future of their longtime center. 

    Mack's current deal will pay him $24 million—or $8 million per year—over the next three seasons. Getting back on the open market would likely give him the opportunity to grab a bigger chunk of cash, whether it is from the Browns or another NFL team. If he does opt out, Cleveland will have to decide if he's worth keeping around at a potentially higher price.

    A three-time Pro Bowler, Mack figures to have a number of potential suitors. And the Browns did use a first-round pick on former Florida State center Cameron Erving in 2015, likely with this very scenario in mind. 

    Losing Mack might create another hole for the rebuilding Browns, but is throwing even more money at a 30-year-old center the best path forward? Head coach Hue Jackson and Cleveland's new front office will likely have to make that call at some point this offseason. 

Dallas Cowboys: CB Brandon Carr

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    Brandon Carr hasn't exactly lived up to the five-year, $50.1 million deal he signed with the Cowboys back in 2012. Despite starting all 64 games since arriving in Dallas, he has just six interceptions, with zero since the 2013 season. 

    In 2016, he'll have a cap hit of $13.8 million. Even Carr isn't sure whether he'll be back with the Cowboys.  

    “It’s always an unknown,” Carr said, per Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “This is a business. That’s what it is. Every year, the locker room is going to change. Pretty much every day locker rooms change. It’s turnover."

    Among cornerbacks, only Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis have a cap hit larger than Carr's next season. If he isn't interested in a major contract restructure, the Cowboys might have to bite the bullet and release their top cornerback this offseason. Dallas can save over $9 million by designating him a post-June 1 cut. 

Denver Broncos: DL Malik Jackson

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    The Super Bowl champions have as many tough decisions to make this offseason as any team in the NFL. Peyton Manning may or may not retire, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller is a free agent and a candidate for the franchise tag, and others such as linebacker Danny Trevathan and quarterback Brock Osweiler are also scheduled to be free agents. 

    However, the most difficult decision may come down to defensive lineman Malik Jackson, who recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He is a dominant player up front and a key part of Denver's stifling defense. 

    However, the Broncos also paid fellow lineman Derek Wolfe during the season, and Miller, Osweiler (especially if Manning retires) and Trevathan could eat up a big chunk of Denver's spending money this offseason. 

    Jackson has earned a potential deal worth at least $10 million per year, with big money guaranteed. Can John Elway and the Broncos find the cash to pay him and all the others?

Detroit Lions: DT Haloti Ngata

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    The Lions don't have many big decisions on free agents this offseason, with Haloti Ngata—who the team traded for last offseason—serving as the most notable name. 

    He wants to be back in Detroit, but do the Lions want him, and at what price?

    "I would love to stay," Ngata said, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. "I love what Coach (Jim) Caldwell’s done here, love playing under him and with Coach Kris (Kocurek). I feel like I got in a groove toward the end of the season and hopefully I can play a whole season understanding the system."

    Ngata turned 32 in January, and he's coming off an injury-plagued first season in Detroit. If the Lions get him back, it will likely come with a huge pay cut from his $8.5 million salary in 2015.

    Detroit's new management may also decide to move on from linebacker and annual tackler leader Stephen Tulloch, who could create $6 million in cap room if released.

Green Bay Packers: LB Nick Perry

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    Unlike last offseason, when both Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga were free agents, the Packers don't have a major player entering free agency in 2016. But Green Bay isn't without tough decisions, with cornerback Casey Hayward, nose tackle B.J. Raji, running back James Starks, linebacker Mike Neal, fullback John Kuhn and receiver James Jones all scheduled to be free agents. 

    The most intriguing player facing free agency? Former first-round pick Nick Perry. 

    While his short career has been plagued with injuries and inconsistent playing time, Perry came on in a big way late in the 2015 season. Over two playoff games, he produced 3.5 sacks. In fact, he tied DeMarcus Ware for the second-most sacks in the playoffs. 

    The Packers did not exercise his fifth-year option last offseason, but Perry can be a difference-maker when he's healthy and on the field. And with Julius Peppers entering the last year of his contract at age 36, Green Bay probably doesn't want to risk losing a young pass-rusher who was once picked 28th overall by general manager Ted Thompson. 

    Then again, Perry is probably itching to test the open market. If he gets there, the Packers might have to deal with the possibility of Perry reaching his potential in a different uniform. 

Houston Texans: RB Arian Foster

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    When healthy, Arian Foster is one of the game's great running backs. Over seven years in Houston, he's produced 8,740 total yards and 68 touchdowns while making four Pro Bowls.

    However, Foster will turn 30 in August and is coming off another major injury. The money is also working against him. 

    Foster's cap hit next season will be almost $9 million, and the Texans can save $6.6 million by releasing him. 

    Cutting ties with a franchise player is never easy. While Foster might not be ready for training camp, he's still capable of putting up big numbers if he returns anywhere close to 100 percent. That said, the Texans probably can't justify paying him that much over the final year of his deal, especially with the cap savings that would come with taking him off the books. 

Indianapolis Colts: TEs Coby Fleener/Dwayne Allen

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    Both of the Colts' featured tight ends are scheduled to be free agents. This reality leaves Indianapolis in a tough spot. Do the Colts attempt to re-sign both, target just one or let both walk?

    The latter option doesn't seem reasonable. More than likely, Indianapolis will identify the tight end it wants and make an aggressive push to re-sign him. 

    Coby Fleener, a second-round pick in 2012, caught 54 passes for 491 yards and three touchdowns after a promising third season in 2014. Dwayne Allen, a third-rounder in the same draft, caught just 16 passes for 109 yards and one touchdown. 

    The numbers seem to make it an easy call. Allen can do more things within an offense, but Fleener is the far more productive receiver. If the Colts are forced to choose between the two, expect Fleener to stay.

Jacksonville Jaguars: C Stefen Wisniewski

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    The Jaguars snagged Stefen Wisniewski on a one-year deal last offseason. After starting all 16 games at center in Jacksonville, he is right back where he was at this point last year. 

    Will the Jaguars want him back on a longer deal? Wisniewski will turn 27 in March, and he's proved to be a capable player in front of franchise quarterback Blake Bortles. 

    “I think he’s done a fine job,” offensive line coach Doug Marrone said, according to Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union. “He really came in and jelled well together [with the other players]. He’s really helped us out. It’s difficult to get through him when he is in pass protection.”

    Wisniewski could generate some interest on the open market, but only if the Jaguars let him get there. With mountains of cap space and precious few other priorities, Jacksonville has the money and opportunity to sign him.

Kansas City Chiefs: LBs Tamba Hali/Derrick Johnson

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    Both Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson—two stalwarts of the Kansas City defense—will be free agents this spring. Both are over the age of 30, and both have young players waiting to take their jobs if they depart. 

    The Chiefs must decide whether the time to say goodbye is now. 

    Hali will be 33 in November, but he did add 6.5 sacks to his impressive career total (86) in Kansas City. If he leaves, the Chiefs have former first-round pick Dee Ford behind him.

    Johnson turns 34 in November, but he's produced at least 100 tackles in five of his last six seasons (he played in just one game due to injury in 2014). The Chiefs selected linebacker Ramik Wilson in the fourth round in last year's draft. 

    Both veterans performed well enough in 2015 to consider bringing them back for another run, especially if the price is right. Then again, on-field performance can dip sharply past the age of 30—and it's possible other franchises could value the pair more than Kansas City. 

    The Chiefs have prepared for this moment, but making the call on two long-serving and quality members of the franchise won't be easy.

Los Angeles Rams: CBs Janoris Jenkins/Trumaine Johnson

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    The Rams will want both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson—two young, ascending cornerbacks entering free agency—back for 2016 and beyond, but even defensive coordinator Gregg Williams admits the business of the NFL might not allow it. 

    “I love them, and they’ve done a great job," Williams said, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. "I would love to be able to coach them for as long as I can. I’d love to be able to coach them their whole career, but that’s the nature of our business. We understand that."

    Jenkins, a second-round pick in 2012, intercepted three passes for the Rams in 2015. Johnson, a third-rounder in the same draft, picked off a career-high seven. 

    The two cornerbacks have developed into difference-makers for the Rams. No team wants to see a player develop in the system and then leave in free agency before a second contract. But with both Jenkins and Johnson entering free agency in the same year, Los Angeles might not be able to keep the pair together.

Miami Dolphins: DE Cameron Wake

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    The signing of Ndamukong Suh to a megacontract last offseason will likely force the Dolphins to make a difficult decision along the defensive line in 2016. 

    Olivier Vernon doesn't turn 26 years old until October, and he's coming off a season in which he excelled as Miami's primary pass-rusher. He'll be a free agent after registering 25.5 sacks over the last three years. 

    Can the Dolphins afford to bring him back without sacrificing Cameron Wake, who is 34 years old and coming off a season in which he played just seven games due to a major injury? The Dolphins could save $8.4 million in cap space by releasing the veteran this offseason, potentially freeing up the room necessary to keep Vernon around. 

    Wake has produced 70 sacks over seven seasons with Miami. However, if the Dolphins have to choose between Vernon and Wake, Miami's pick should be Vernon—the young pass-rusher has earned his first big payday.

Minnesota Vikings: LT Matt Kalil

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    At some point in the next month, the Vikings must decide whether or not former No. 4 pick Matt Kalil is the team's future at left tackle. 

    During the second week of March, Kalil's fifth-year option will become fully guaranteed. If he stays, he'll account for more than $11 million on the Vikings' 2016 salary cap. 

    Kalil rebounded last season from his disastrous two-year stretch of play during 2013 and 2014. Still, he was far from a dominant left tackle, and he's now scheduled to be one of the highest-paid players at the position for 2016. 

    Releasing him would create a hole at left tackle, even if the Vikings think T.J. Clemmings—who played extensively at right tackle last season—can move to the left side, with Phil Loadholt returning to play on the right. 

    If Kalil stays, Loadholt becomes a name to monitor. The 30-year-old tackle has missed 21 games over the last two seasons with major injuries, and he'll count almost $8 million on Minnesota's cap next season—the final year of his contract. 

New England Patriots: LB Jerod Mayo

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    Jerod Mayo is one of the longest-tenured Patriots and a leader inside the locker room, but New England still has a difficult decision on its hands in terms of his future with the franchise. 

    Mayo, 29, has a $4.5 million roster bonus due during the second week in March. If the Patriots release him before then, it will save the club $11.5 million on the 2016 salary cap. 

    An eight-year veteran drafted by the Patriots back in 2008, Mayo hasn't produced a season with 60 total tackles since 2012. He's also been placed on season-ending injured reserve in each of the last three years.

    But his teammates love him. 

    “Mayo’s kind of the heart and soul of not just the defense, but really, the team,” safety Devin McCourty said, per Zack Cox of NESN. “He gets everybody going. Being able to watch him, he’s a special leader."

    It's possible the Patriots could release Mayo before March and bring him back at a lower price. 

New Orleans Saints: WR Marques Colston

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    The end might be near for the most productive receiver in Saints history. 

    Marques Colston, who turns 33 in June, will count almost $6 million on New Orleans' cap next season. The Saints can save $3.2 million by releasing him. 

    For a team that is so strapped for cash, $3.2 million could be huge. Colston can still play—he caught 45 passes with four touchdowns in 2015—but he's probably not worth his current 2016 cap number. 

    The decision still won't be an easy one. Colston has caught 72 touchdowns for the Saints, and he's only a few hundred yards away from 10,000 for his career. But the Saints need the cap space more than they need the sentimentality of having their fan-favorite receiver. 

New York Giants: DE Jason Pierre-Paul

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    New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul—a looming unrestricted free agent—will draw some interest this offseason. He's only 27 years old, and he proved last season that he can still play despite his mangled right hand.

    According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, Giants owner John Mara said in early January on WFAN 660 that his team wants JPP back in New York, but only at the "right price." 

    Figuring out his market won't be easy. His hand injury will scare off some, but there's still huge upside for a young pass-rusher with two seasons of 10 or more sacks over the last five years.

    The Giants will likely have to navigate through tricky waters to get Pierre-Paul back for 2016. How high are they willing to go to keep him around long-term?

New York Jets: RB Chris Ivory

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    The Jets have many free-agent priorities this offseason, most notably defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It seems likely Wilkerson will get the franchise tag, while the Jets won't want to let Harrison and Fitzpatrick get away. 

    Where does Chris Ivory—the team's leading rusher in 2015—fit into the picture? The reality is there might not be enough money for everyone to stay.

    "I would like to stay in New York if we reach an agreement," Ivory said, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. "But I know the cap space they're working with and everything and the other guys they have to get signed or want to get signed back. But if it doesn't work out, I'm just looking forward to continuing my career elsewhere if it happens to go that way."

    Ivory rushed for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time, and despite his 28th birthday looming in March, Ivory should be in line for a pay increase. Unfortunately for both parties, the Jets might not be able to provide him with one. 

Oakland Raiders: OT Donald Penn

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    Donald Penn outperformed the two-year, $9.6 million deal he signed with the Raiders back in 2014. He's been a good player for Oakland on Derek Carr's blind side, and it seems likely that general manager Reggie McKenzie will want him to return next season. 

    However, McKenzie must decide what he wants to pay for a 32-year-old tackle.

    There's an obvious risk in overpaying Penn, just as there's risk in letting him get to free agency. It's a fine line, but allowing the market to set his price and then acting might make more sense in this situation. 

    Then again, Penn has been adamant about saying in Oakland. 

    “I want to retire a Raider, I think I’ve made that pretty clear,” Penn said, per Bill Williamson of ESPN.com

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Sam Bradford

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    The Eagles have been aggressive this offseason in locking up players, but one name still figures to dominate the team's personnel plans: Sam Bradford

    How will new head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles go about his looming free agency? 

    According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Eagles don't plan on using the franchise tag on Bradford. In fact, the team might actually pursue a trade for Nick Foles, who started 24 games in Philadelphia from 2012 to 2014. 

    Bradford was good, but far from great, for the Eagles in 2015. He threw 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, with a passer rating of 86.4. Given the NFL quarterback market, Philadelphia will likely have to pay big money to keep him around. But as it stands now, it can't be considered a sure thing that Pederson and the Eagles' new staff truly want him as their starting quarterback in 2016. 

Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Lawrence Timmons

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    Lawrence Timmons led the Steelers in tackles in 2015 and has been a model of consistency, with six straight seasons with at least 90 tackles—plus 16 sacks and six interceptions since the start of the 2012 season. 

    However, Timmons will also account for more than $15 million on Pittsburgh's 2016 salary cap. The Steelers could save almost $9 million by releasing him, even with more than $6 million in dead money involved. 

    It seems unlikely the Steelers would just release one of their best defensive players and veteran leaders. But with 2016 serving as the last year of Timmons' current deal, it probably makes sense for both sides to sit down and come to an agreement on some sort of restructuring. 

    Decreasing Timmons' cap number to a more palatable amount won't be easy. If negotiations stall, the Steelers might find it easier to save the cash and move on at inside linebacker with their young talent.

San Diego Chargers: TE Ladarius Green

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    Both Ladarius Green and fellow tight end Antonio Gates will be free agents this spring. The Chargers might attempt to bring both back, but the more plausible scenario is that San Diego will need to pick one. 

    Green, 25, is a young, athletic tight end with untapped potential as a player. Gates will turn 36 in June, but he's also one of the most productive players at the position in NFL history and a beloved member of the franchise. 

    According to Ricky Henne of the team's official site, new tight ends coach John McNulty is hopeful Gates will return for 2016. 

    In a perfect world, the Chargers would bring back the two players on staggered deals; Gates on a short-term contract and Green with a multiyear agreement. But the NFL offseason is typically not a place for perfect scenarios. 

    Teams in need of a tight end will likely be willing to throw big bucks at Green. If the Chargers bring back Gates, Green might bolt San Diego for a bigger role.

San Francisco 49ers: QB Colin Kaepernick

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    The hiring of Chip Kelly as the 49ers head coach has left the franchise with one major question for this offseason: Is Colin Kaepernick the team's quarterback for 2016?

    The 49ers have until April to make the decision. His 2016 salary becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the month, but San Francisco can release him and save roughly $9 million for 2016 alone if he's able to pass a physical before that date. 

    Owner Jed York isn't rushing Kelly or general manger Trent Baalke.  

    "I've always had a very, very high opinion of Kap," York said, per CSN Bay Area. "Kap's a great kid, he's done a lot of great things for us. And again, this is a fresh start for everybody."

    Kaepernick in Kelly's offense would be fun to see in theory, but the 49ers might not view it the same way. If Kelly doesn't see a fit, or Kaepernick truly wants out, the best option might be to part ways—either by releasing him or through a trade. Stay tuned. 

Seattle Seahawks: LB Bruce Irvin

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    A first-round pick of the Seahawks back in 2012, Bruce Irvin will be one of Seattle's biggest free agents of this offseason. 

    The fourth-year pro has played a variety of roles for Seattle's dominant defense, but he's willing to take a hometown discount to stay with the Seahawks. 

    “I’m not asking for $100 million," Irvin said, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “I’m not asking for nothing crazy. I just want to be appreciated. But everything will work itself out."

    Irvin has 22 sacks, three interceptions and four forced fumbles over his career while missing just five games in four seasons. Is he irreplaceable for the Seahawks? No. But if he's willing to stay in Seattle at a discounted price, general manager John Schneider has to consider getting serious about a new deal. 

    Another important decision will eventually come on free-agent left tackle Russell Okung, who—according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports—will be out five months after shoulder surgery. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB Doug Martin

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    According to Scott Reynolds of the Pewter Report, both receiver Vincent Jackson and cornerback Alterraun Verner will be back in Tampa Bay at their current salaries for the 2016 season. That leaves the Buccaneers with precious few important decisions this offseason. 

    The biggest will come on the price of Doug Martin's new deal with Tampa Bay. 

    The two sides may have similar interests—specifically, Martin returning to the Buccaneers—but gauging his true value as a running back might not be so cut and dried.

    Martin finished second in the NFL in rushing with 1,402 yards in 2015, completing a bounce-back season after two down years and earning a trip to the Pro Bowl. He's still only 27, and his versatile abilities figure to remain a big part of what the Buccaneers want to do within Jameis Winston's offense. 

    Now, Tampa Bay needs to get the numbers right. If everything works out, Martin won't reach the open market. 

Tennessee Titans: CB Jason McCourty

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    The Titans are thin in the secondary, but monetary realities might continue to cut into Tennessee's depth at the back end. 

    Cornerback Jason McCourty is scheduled to account for $8.8 million on the team's cap next season. The Titans could gain $7 million in cap space in 2016 by releasing the 28-year-old. 

    It would be a tough move. McCourty isn't one of the league's top corners, but he's a serviceable player and a long-serving member of the Titans. Cutting him would create an even bigger hole for Tennessee's secondary to start the offseason.

    Then again, McCourty had just three interceptions over the last three seasons, and he's coming off a year in which he played just four games due to injury. Maybe the two sides can meet in the middle and agree to some sort of contract restructure. 

Washington Redskins: WR Pierre Garcon

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    Pierre Garcon is coming off a 2015 season in which he finished second on the Redskins in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He's tough and productive, and if the money made sense, there'd be no question about his status next season.

    But the money is hard to overlook. 

    Garcon will count $10.2 million against Washington's cap in 2016. Releasing him would save a big chunk—$8 million—for a team that is attempting to lock up quarterback Kirk Cousins to a huge deal. 

    Garcon's cap hit ranks 13th among receivers. Is he the league's 13th-best receiver? Probably not. But Washington absolutely needs him back in 2016, making it possible he'll survive the offseason—despite the money. 

    All salary cap and contract information via Spotrac.com.


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