Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye has two years and nearly $31 million remaining on his contract, making him a prime target to be cut. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Long before the new league year arrives and the frenzy that  is free agency gets underway, NFL teams will need to tinker with their  rosters. Many will be releasing players and/or adjusting contracts in an  effort to secure as much salary cap space as possible.

As a result, the already robust free-agent market will be flooded with additional talent, providing teams many more options to plug holes on their roster.

Here’s a look at five of the bigger names who could be released leading up to the start of free agency.

A.J. Bouye, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

When  the Jaguars originally signed A.J. Bouye, he was one of the best  up-and-coming cornerbacks in the league. However, over the past three  seasons, Bouye has seen a sharp decline in his production, which was  capped off with a 58.4 Pro Football Focus score in 2019 after allowing  52 receptions on 80 targets. 

As things sit, he has two  years and nearly $31 remaining on that deal, and there’s next to no  chance the Jaguars see that out. Here in 2020, Bouye would account for a  dead cap hit of $4 million if released, but that pales in comparison to  the nearly $11.5 million in cap savings the Jaguars would receive if  they cut their losses. Ultimately, expect Jacksonville to attempt to  swing a trade before releasing Bouye outright — assuming they find no  takers, of course.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins is due $11.25 million in 2020, leaving the Saints with a decision to make. Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Janoris Jenkins, CB, New Orleans Saints

Janoris  Jenkins is a somewhat interesting addition to this list because it’s unlikely the Saints want to part ways with him just a year removed from claiming him off waivers. But, as the saying goes, money talks and right now, Jenkins is making a lot of money — $11.25 million in 2020. 

The Saints have an out, however, as  Jenkins no longer has any guaranteed money on his deal and therefore his dead cap hit would be a big zero. Rather than release Jenkins outright, it’s plausible that the Saints request he take a pay cut. If the Jackrabbit were to agree, problem solved. But Jenkins has traditionally bet on himself, so he may balk at such a request and instead opt to be released and test free agency.

Linebacker Alec Ogletree has projected cap hits of $11.75 million and $10.75 million the next two years, a heavy burden for the Giants. Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Alec Ogletree, LB, New York Giants

In desperate need of a talented linebacker and defensive leader, the Giants sent the Los Angeles Rams two draft picks in 2018 in exchange for Ogletree. However, Big Blue only got half of what they were looking for in Ogletree, and success on the field was not one of those things. While Ogletree has proven himself a defensive leader, his on-field play has fallen off dramatically. Save for a few big interceptions, Ogletree has clearly lost a step and struggled mightily in coverage. His run defense has also regressed. 

Now nearing 30 and with projected cap hits of $11.75 million and $10.75 million over the next two seasons, it seems inevitable that the Giants part ways with Ogletree and reinvest the savings elsewhere. Releasing Ogletree would leave the Giants with a $3.5  million dead cap hit, but the savings would benefit the team substantially.

Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon is due $15.25 million in 2020, but none of that is guaranteed. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Olivier Vernon, DE, Cleveland Browns

When the Browns acquired Olivier Vernon from the New York Giants, they knew they were getting a bad contract. However, there was hope that a change of scenery would lead to more consistent health and production. It didn’t. Vernon appeared in 10 games last season, recording 26 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks, which represented a career low. 

In 2020, Vernon is on the books for $15.25 million, but none of that is guaranteed. The Browns could cut Vernon loose and avoid any dead cap hit, but the more likely scenario is that they try to unload him on  a contender looking for a hope-and-prayer pass-rusher. When that ultimately fails, expect Vernon to be given his walking papers.

With the Bengals poised to take LSU’s Joe Burrow, it is likely to part ways with Andy Dalton, their starter of the past nine years. David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are willing to work with Andy Dalton on a possible trade, which means things are clear as day in Cincinnati: The quarterback is headed out the door one way or another. Dalton has one year remaining on his Bengals contract and will count for $17.7 million against the cap in 2020 if retained, so that’s a non-option for Cincinnati. And with none of that salary guaranteed, a release of Dalton almost seems certain unless a team is unexpectedly willing to take on his salary. That seems far-fetched, so the team poised to take LSU’s Joe Burrow at No. 1 overall is more likely to part ways with their starter of the last nine years.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.


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Can you name every 'Madden' cover athlete?

Both Madden 10 and Madden 25 had two cover athletes. 

Madden 99 / RB
Garrison Hearst
Madden 2000 / RB
Barry Sanders
Madden 2001 / RB
Eddie George
Madden 2002 / QB
Daunte Culpepper
Madden 2003 / RB
Marshall Faulk
Madden 2004 / QB
Michael Vick
Madden 2005 / LB
Ray Lewis
Madden 06 / QB
Donovan McNabb
Madden 07 / RB
Shaun Alexander
Madden 08 / QB
Vince Young
Madden 09 / QB
Brett Favre
Madden 10 / WR
Larry Fitzgerald
Madden 10 / DB
Troy Polamalu
Madden 11 / QB
Drew Brees
Madden 12 / RB
Peyton Hillis
Madden 13 / WR
Calvin Johnson
Madden 25 / RB
Adrian Peterson
Madden 25 / RB
Barry Sanders
Madden 15 / DB
Richard Sherman
Madden 16 / WR
Odell Beckham Jr.
Madden 17 / TE
Rob Gronkowski
Madden 18 / QB
Tom Brady
Madden 19 / WR
Antonio Brown
Madden 20 / QB
Patrick Mahomes

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