Big names beginning to join free agent list

Teams are starting the process of trimming overpriced salaries from the books. Reggie Bush and A.J. Hawk joined the free-agent ranks, but they will have high-priced company soon.

We’ve come to the time of year in between the Combine and the start of the official NFL year with the opening of free agency that teams are in a frenzy to improve their salary cap situation. As a result, teams will impose the franchise tag at the start of free agency, other players are starting to get signed, get cut and be rumored to be on the roster bubble.

The Vikings have their fair share of important financial decisions to make. Those start with Adrian Peterson, but aren’t all A.P. Greg Jennings is due $8.9 million in salary in 2015. Chad Greenway is a half a tick behind that at $7 million. Matt Cassel is due a $500,000 roster bonus and $4.15 million in base salary in the final year of his contract.

With any player, if the organization draws a line in the sand about a contract, there is rarely a counterpoint. More times than not, if the player chooses “leave it” in a take it-or-leave it scenario, the die is cast.

The Vikings have their financial questions that need to be addressed soon, especially if Peterson’s contract is held in limbo by his current suspension, which, at the present time, is still in force for more than a month away from the start of free agency.

That’s the bad news. If there is good news, it’s that they are far from alone. When free agency opens March 10, the current list of free agents is likely going to swell with the potential addition of some pretty big names. The list may include some of the aforementioned Vikings, but barring renegotiated contracts the list of big names already in the free-agent class of 2015 is probably going to get much bigger in the coming days.

The NFC North has already fired shots, as Detroit released Reggie Bush and the Packers got rid of A.J. Hawk. Neither of them was ready to retire, but their relative organizations made that decision for them.

They may soon have some heady company joining them.

Percy Harvin is due $10.5 million by the Jets, which is way too much to pay. Even worse is Kansas City’s Dwayne Bowe, who is supposed to make $10.75 million that the Chiefs would be idiots to pay. Miami’s Mike Wallace has said “no thanks” to a pay-cut offer from his current $9.85 million base salary. How bad are things in Miami? They’re slated to pay pedestrian move-the-chains wide receiver Brian Hartline almost $6 million. Marques Colston is a red zone threat, but at $9.7 million, that likely isn’t going to happen either. Pierre Garcon of the Redskins is also due $9.7 million. Hard seeing that happening either.

In the running back department, Bush got the heave-ho out of Detroit and he likely won’t be alone. Glacial running back Trent Richardson has little to no chance of earning his $3.2 million, despite Indianapolis giving up a first-round pick to get him. Tennessee’s Shonn Greene has stolen money for two years and isn’t going to get the nearly $4 million he’s due this season.

On the defensive side, Darrelle Revis’ contract calls for him to make $20 million with a cap number of $25 mil. That has to be a deal-breaker. Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata has a cap number of $16 million. That isn’t happening. Philadelphia can pocket $8.4 million by dumping 32-year-old Trent Cole. Troy Polamalu is due $6 million and the thrifty Steelers would be too loyal to pay him that much.

The decisions that are going to alter franchises are starting to be made as NFL teams start opening up more cap space by getting rid of contracts they don’t feel are worthy of being honored. A lot of big names have career decisions facing them in the next few days. Bush and Hawk were among the first to get the bad news.

They won’t be the last.

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