NFL vets facing the chopping block

Image: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (© Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)
James Harrison is heading to one of the Steelers' main rivals.
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Alex Marvez

Alex Marvez is a Senior NFL Writer for He has covered the NFL for the past 18 seasons as a beat writer and is the former president of the Pro Football Writers of America. He also is a frequent host on Sirius XM NFL Radio.



Who is available? Which teams are in play? Alex Marvez has the answers to your free agency FAQs.

Even with a slew of veterans cut through Friday afternoon, the bloodletting isn’t quite over yet as NFL teams prepare for the start of Tuesday’s free-agent signing period.

Here’s a quick look at five big-name players whose release was either imminent or expected to happen without agreeing to restructured contracts:

1. Pittsburgh outside linebacker James Harrison: As the Steelers deal with a salary-cap crisis (again), USA Today reports that Harrison is on the verge of being whacked unless he agrees to a pay cut from his scheduled $6.57 million base salary. Harrison is 35 years old and struggled with injuries in 2012, which helped limit him to only six sacks. Harrison would have appeal elsewhere as a short-term fix at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Jason Worilds, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, would likely assume Harrison’s starting spot.

UPDATE: As expected, the Steelers announced Saturday that Harrison has been released. The move came after Pittsburgh’s front office was unable to reach agreement with Harrison on a restructured contract.

2. Philadelphia cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha: This isn’t a matter of if but when. Multiple media reports say Asomugha is set for release after failing to reach agreement on a restructured contract. Once considered the NFL’s best cornerback while with Oakland, Asomugha was a major free-agent flop after signing a five-year, $60 million contract with $25 million guaranteed to join the Eagles in 2011. Asomugha will join what already is a crowded market of free-agent cornerbacks.

3. Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall: As reported by CBS Sports and the Washington Post, Hall is on the chopping block as the Redskins try to get under the $123 million salary cap while dealing with an $18 million penalty levied by the NFL for cap violations in 2010. Hall is scheduled to earn an $8 million base salary, which is a lofty figure for a 10-year veteran on the downside of a quality NFL career. Cheaper alternatives can be found in free agency.


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4. Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel: With the deal for San Francisco’s Alex Smith set to become official Tuesday, the Chiefs are expected to release Cassel if they can’t find a trade partner for his services. Cassel flopped the past two seasons in Kansas City but would have value as a backup in a quarterback-starved market.

5. Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain: An incredibly poor streak of Top 10 draft selections that included JaMarcus Russell, Michael Huff and Darrius Heyward-Bey continues with McClain. The No. 8 overall selection in 2010, McClain has proven a mediocre player whose off-field troubles are even more disappointing. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that McClain will be released – a move the Raiders wanted to make last season but couldn’t because of limited space cap space – before the start of free agency. Oakland could then spread a $7.26 million cap hit in “dead money” over the next two seasons.

Tagged: Chiefs, Raiders, Eagles, Redskins, Steelers, James Harrison, Nnamdi Asomugha, DeAngelo Hall, Matt Cassel, Rolando McClain

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