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Raiders can clear plenty of cap space, quickly

Oakland's Palmer is congratulated by fans after the Raider's overtime win over Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri

Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer is congratulated by fans after the Raider’s overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs as he heads to the locker room following their NFL football game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri December 24, 2011. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


The news that the Raiders have $145 million in salary cap commitments for 2012 was surprising, for a couple of reasons. First, no one really knew where the Raiders were in relation to the cap. Second, the results don’t mesh with the notion that the Raiders have a high-end team.

But it won’t be all that difficult to get things under control.

NFLPA records reveal a laundry list of high base salaries that could easily be reduced via restructuring contracts or cutting players loose.

The biggest number of the bunch goes to quarterback Carson Palmer, who despite taking less in 2011 upon being traded from Cincinnati remains due to receive $12.5 million in base pay this season. Conversion of, say, $10 million of that to a signing bonus would create $6.67 million in cap space this season -- even though it would push that amount in equal parts to 2013 and 2014, the final two years of his contract.

Kamerion Wimbley gets a base salary of $11 million in 2012, $11 million in 2013, $10 million in 2014, and $11.5 million in 2015. He may have to simply take less money in order to stick around. And with $6.5 million of his 2012 salary fully guaranteed, the “or else” entails a cap savings of only $4.5 million. (Also, cutting Wimbley could trigger a cap escalation, depending on whether he received a signing bonus with his current deal in 2011.)

Others with high base salaries include defensive tackle Tommy Kelly ($6 millon), linebacker Aaron Curry ($5.75 million), receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey ($5.279 million), safety Michael Huff ($4 million), defensive tackle John Henderson ($4 million), and cornerback Chris Johnson ($3.5 million).

So with a restructuring here and an ultimatum there and a cut or two, the Raiders will get under the cap.

Then again, it’s not as if they have a choice.