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Breaking down the NFL’s most likely cap casualties

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning walks along the baseline prior to a an NCAA college basketball game between Duke and North Carolina in Durham, N.C., Saturday, March 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)


We looked earlier this evening at the top free agents remaining in the post-franchise tag period.

Due to large forthcoming bonus payments and/or base salaries, the following ten players could be joining them in free agency soon.

1. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning -- You already know. Manning is owed a $28 million roster bonus on Thursday, March 8, and the Colts would shock the world if they paid it.

2. Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley -- As Mike Florio has explained, the Raiders must decide Wimbley’s fate prior to March 17. If released, Wimbley can expect hot pursuit from teams in need of a versatile, productive pass rusher.

3. Cardinals tackle Levi Brown -- Arizona wants to re-sign Brown to a long-term extension, but he’s fully expected to be released before his $6 million roster bonus comes due on March 12. The sides can resume talks after that.

4. Chargers tackle Marcus McNeill -- San Diego is actively working to re-sign free agent Jared Gaither because it knows McNeill will be released in short order. The move will clear $10 million in salary cap space.

5. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma -- Likely to be a primary target as the NFL doles out bounty-scandal discipline, Vilma’s on-field performance has declined sharply and he’s no longer worth his $5.4 million base salary.

6. Jaguars defensive end Aaron Kampman -- Owed $5 million in salary and bonuses, the 32-year-old still hasn’t passed his exit physical after three separate knee surgeries since December of 2009.

7. Packers tackle Chad Clifton -- Clifton is scheduled to receive a $5.25 million base salary and $203,125 in per-game roster bonuses. He turns 36 before the season and recently underwent surgery on his lower back and hip. Clifton was benched in Green Bay’s playoff loss for ineffectiveness.

8. Rams cornerback Ronald Bartell -- St. Louis is expected to be active on the free agent cornerback market, and also has confirmed interest in LSU’s Morris Claiborne. Due a $6.2 million salary and coming off a fractured neck, Bartell could easily be brushed aside in favor of a younger player.

9. Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson -- Hutchinson is owed $6.95 million in base pay and a $500,000 offseason workout bonus. After concussions ended his last two seasons, it’s no secret that Hutchinson is in danger of being released.